14) Five Farm Laborers Missing (August 2000)

Extraordinary rainfall and flash flooding engulfed ICRISAT's huge campus near Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday August 23rd. Five temporary farm laborers stranded by the floodwaters are missing as a result of a tragic event during a rescue attempt. Three others were saved. An intensive search for the missing is underway. As of noon Friday 25 August, three bodies had been recovered from the ICRISAT lake.

On their way to their workplace, the eight laborers became stranded on a narrow bund (dike) surrounded by the rising, fast-moving water. They were located by security staff who were patrolling the fields during the late afternoon. In view of the continued heavy rainfall, rising water level, impending darkness and cold wet conditions of the laborers, urgent attempts were mounted to rescue them.

A tractor successfully forded the stream to collect the laborers, but upon its return trip the surging force of water pushed it off the causeway into the streambed. The tractor rolled over and the laborers fell into the stream.

In addition to the driver, three laborers were saved, but five others were swept downstream and have not yet been found despite intensive search efforts. The three persons who returned to the bund were provided with food and blankets over a rope stretched to the bund as they remained there overnight and as rescue efforts continued. Assistance to rescue them was provided by the Medak District Collector, the District police authorities, and the Andhra Pradesh Fire Services. They were finally rescued by an Air Force helicopter early the next morning.

ICRISAT is devastated by this tragedy and is making every effort to help the families of the missing to cope. Medical care and counseling are being provided to the survivors as well as to the families of the missing, for whom an intensive search continues. ICRISAT is working closely with State and District civil rescue agencies and police authorities in this situation. ICRISAT will provide all possible assistance and support to those affected.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.