One missing; they were part of a nine-member group from TCS
A trainee employee of Tata Consultancy Services drowned and his colleague was reported missing at Meenmutty waterfalls, a weekend holiday destination in the densely forested foothills of the Western Ghats at Kallar, nearly 45 km from here.
Circle Inspector, Vithura, V.S. Pradeep Kumar identified the deceased as Mahesh Kumar, a resident of Haryana. He drowned when he entered the deep and turbulent pool at the base of the powerful waterfall to save his friend Athul Yadav, a resident of Rajasthan. Athul is yet to be traced.
Fire and Rescue Services divers and local people gave up their search for the missing person due to poor light and heavy rain around 5.45 p.m. The search will resume at daybreak on Thursday.
The police said the youth were part of a nine-member group of TCS employees. The youth, reportedly, had not heeded warnings of local guides, all employees of the Eco Development Committee (EDC), not to venture into the waterfall.
Bhagawan Kani, president of the EDC, said the youth had arrived at Kallar around 1.30 p.m. Sobhana Kumari and Leela, who manned the gate at the start of the 2-km thickly forested trekking path to Meenmutty, warned them not to bathe at the waterfall or wade into the large pool at its base.
The group reached the waterfall around 2.45 p.m. At the time, three ECD guides (Stephen, Soman and Karunakaran) were at the spot. They told the youth that it was raining heavily uphill and the possibility of flash floods could not be discounted. The youth said they would be cautious and the guides retreated to another spot to have lunch.
Cry for help
Police investigators, quoting other members of the group, said that Athul entered the pool first. He tried to float and was suddenly sucked into the depths. Mahesh entered the water to save his friend and he also drowned. The other members of the group shouted for help. But, the sound of the waterfall and rain drowned their cries for sometime.
The guides came to know of the incident around 3.20 p.m. and alerted the police. Karunakaran, amongst the first to reach the accident spot, saw Mahesh’s body “surface momentarily” near the base of the waterfall.
He entered the water through a relatively “safe and shallow” ford at the edge of the waterfall and secured it to a forest vine.
The police said the waterfall had deepened the pool in an uneven manner. Local divers told them that it was more than 150 feet deep at certain points. During rain, the kinetic energy of the waterfall was so intense that the pool at its base became an “inescapable whirlpool”.
In the past, Kallar has often become a death trap for visitors. Perhaps the biggest tragedy so far at the tourist spot was when eight Government Dental College students died there in a flash flood in October 1991. In May 2006, four youth belonging to a group of weekend vacationers died at the Meenmutty waterfall.