Lack of coordination led to man's death during mock drill in Pathanamthitta: report

Binu Soman

Pathanamthitta: The death of a person during a mock drill conducted by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDRF) is due to poor coordination between various units, revealed a report compiled by the Pathanamthitta district collector on Saturday. The report submitted to Chief Minister claims that the rescue operation failed due to NDRF's failure to inform authorities of its decision to change the spot conducting the drill.

The mock drill was conducted in a joint operation involving Revenue, Fire Force, Panchayat, NDRF, Health and Police units. The decision to conduct a mock drill was taken during a meeting held in Kallooppara Grama Panchayat on Wednesday. Initially, the drill was planned to be conducted in the Manimala River near the Komalam bridge. However, the mock drill was eventually conducted four kilometres away from here.

The report alleged that it was NDRF which took the decision to change the location of the mock drill. Further, they failed to mention this change to Malappally Tehsildar or District Collector. However, NDRF argued that a new area was selected since it is more accessible via vehicle.

Additionally, it was suggested that the fire force unit would rescue three out of four people who jumped into the river. NDRF will rescue the remaining person. Following this, the Force force unit rescued three persons as planned and ended their mock drill. Meanwhile, Binu Soman (34), drowned in the presence of the NDRF and Air Force. It took more than 40 minutes before NDRF was able to rescue Binu.

Four people, including Binu, came for the mock drill due to the intervention of the grama panchayat.

During the mock drill, the officials directed the four locals to get into the river so that the rescue officers could approach by boat. Unfortunately, Binu got trapped and submerged in the sludge even before the rescuers arrived on the boat. The team rescued him following an operation of nearly half an hour.

When they got Binu into the boat, its engine was not working. The boat was brought to the shore by rowing and tying it to a rope. He was taken to a private medical college hospital in Thiruvalla by ambulance. Local residents alleged that there was no oxygen facility in the ambulance.

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