Seven migrant workers missing as boats capsize in Odisha

They were trying to cross the border at night, fearing lockdown

Seven migrant workers, including two women and five children, were missing after two boats capsized in Sileru River in Odisha’s Malkangiri district on May 24.

The incident took place when over 30 members of migrant families were trying to sneak across the Odisha border at night, fearing lockdown clampdown. Three persons managed to swim ashore, while the body of a child was fished out.

“More than 30 persons, including several children, from Gunthabeda gram panchayat had travelled by bus to the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border on Monday evening. Fearing that they could undergo COVID-19 test at border and questioning by patrolling team, they tried to return to their village Kandhaguda, taking advantage of the darkness,” said K. Padmanava Dora, Tahsildar of Chitrakonda.

Families wait as rescue operation proceed at Sileru River in Odisha’s Malkangiri where seven persons were missing after an incident of boat capsize on Tuesday.  | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


They first took an uncharted road to reach the bank of Sileru Reservoir (Sileru River) and boarded two fishing boats from a point that was not a designated ghat, according to Mr. Dora.

They planned to cross the reservoir on the boats. A few people had crossed the reservoir in the first trip. When the rest were trying to cross the reservoir, the first boat hit a pole and overturned. Those on the first boat jumped on to a second boat, which also got toppled in the process.

Though the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force and fire service personnel started a rescue operation immediately, they could not succeed in saving the passengers.

Mr. Dora said the rescue operation was continuing to trace missing persons. However, with every passing hour, the possibility of their survival was becoming slim.

Since the first week of May, the Odisha government had sealed its border with Andhra Pradesh in order to prevent direct entry of infected persons into villages. The State government had made a 14-day quarantine mandatory for people coming to Odisha from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

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