A 40-year-old man who risked his life to save seven women and children from meeting a watery grave in a crocodile-infested rivulet during the evacuation drive ahead of Cyclone Hudhud, died on Sunday.
“Sahadev Samal died of pneumonia. He was exposed to prolonged cold. We failed to save him despite our best efforts,” said a medical officer of Rajnagar community health centre Rashmi Ranjan Mohanty.
Tragedy struck on Saturday in Satabhayaarea of Kendrapara district as a mechanized boat engaged in evacuating pregnant women and children, had capsized in the crocodile-infested Baunsagadi rivulet resulting in the death of a nine-yearold girl. An eleven-year-old is still untraceable and is feared drowned, the local police said.
“He was a brave soul. I am alive today because of him. I am shocked to know that he is dead. As we screamed for help, he had jumped into the water body to save us, “said 39-year-old Babuli Mallick, Magarkanda village.
The district administration gave ` 10,000 ex-gratia towards the deceased’s bereaved family members, sources said.
Locals living in Satabhaya region depend on country boats that help them cross the creek every day. The creek, which is a part of Bhitarkanika river system, is replete with crocodiles.
People living in Satabhaya live in the face of unabated erosion by the sea over the years. Measures to relocate them are stuck in bureaucratic redtape for over two decades, villagers alleged.