Visakhapatnam: In a daring mission, rescue teams on Monday saved 53 workers and drivers of sand lorries who were trapped after flood water gushed into a sand reach near Purushottapuram, in Sarubujjili mandal in Srikakulam district. The area was inundated after water was released from the Gotta barrage; the Vamsadhara river has been in spate for the past few days due to heavy rain in the catchment area in Odisha.
According to reports reaching here, workers from various parts of Vizag had gone to load sand from the river near Purushottamapuram on Sunday night. At that time, the water was below knee level. The workers were unaware of the release of water from the Gotta barrage upstream. Irrigation officials released 30,000 cusecs of water from Gotta barrage resulting in a huge volume of water entering the river. The workers were caught unawares as the water levels started rising.
They clambered atop the lorries that were stranded in the floodwater and called for help at about 1.30 am. on Monday. A few of them contacted nearby revenue and police officials over mobile phones. The police reached the spot and alerted fire and rescue services personnel and SDRF and NDRF teams. The fire department teams rushed to the spot around 3.30 am and started rescue operations but waited till 5.10 am on Monday for the first boat to venture into the high flowing river.
With the help of drones, the officials identified the exact number of people held up and their locations. The fire department deployed two inflatable boats and rescued all 53 persons and 20 goats and brought them safely to the shore. The operations were successfully executed with the coordination of police, revenue, fire and fisheries departments. Sources said that illegal sand mining was rampant in Vamsadhara River and the district administration ordered an inquiry over the presence of more than 30 sand lorries in Purushottamapuram. The district administration directed the mining and revenue officials to submit a report about the vehicles and whether they had prior permission to carry sand.