An adventure trip to the Manchanabele dam turned out to be anything but fun for four youth from Bangalore, who drowned there on Monday evening. Their bodies were recovered from the dam located in Tavarakere police limits in Ramanagaram district on Tuesday morning.

The deceased have been identified as Mohan, Raghu, Ashok, Charan, all four of them aged 20 and residing in Bangalore. The four had gone to the dam along with another friend Dinesh, who was the only one who didn’t venture deep into the water.

Speaking to presspersons about the incident, Dinesh said: “We all went together to the dam in Mohan’s autorickshaw on Monday morning. While I was bathing near the banks, my friends ventured into the water on a coracle. They were rotating the coracle in a circular motion when it capsized and all four fell into the water. I screamed out for help.”

The drowning took place around 3.30 p.m. As there was poor mobile network, Dinesh could not immediately contact the police. He had to run some distance before he could contact them. The police then rushed to the spot. However, the search operations began on Monday, but it was only on Tuesday morning that Fire and Emergency Services personnel recovered the four bodies.

Mohan and Raghu were autorickshaw drivers while Charan was employed with a solar power company, and Ashok was searching for a job.

Ashok’s father Mahadev Gowda said his son had come to the city just two months ago.

“He had recently written his Industrial Training Institute (ITI) exam and was in search of employment. He was staying with his uncle in J.P. Nagar in the city. He said the friends had known each other for many years as they were all from the same village in Nagamangala taluk of Mandya district.”

Mr. Gowda said he was informed of the drowning at around 7.30 p.m on Monday by the police, and he reached the dam with his relatives on Tuesday morning.

A large number of people had gathered near the dam while the rescue operations were in progress. It was noon by the time all the four bodies were recovered. They were later shifted to the Rajarajeshwari Hospital for post-mortem.

Grief-stricken family members clustered together at the hospital. Among them was Charan’s father Krishnappa, who had last spoken to his son on Monday morning before he set off to the dam. “I was not worried as he was going with a group of friends. But, I never expected the call I got from Dinesh later telling me about the drowning,” he lamented. The relatives said none of the victims was proficient in swimming.

Dangerous zone

The dam is notorious for the many lives it has claimed over the years. Over 200 lives have been lost between 2006 and 2011 and the number is only increasing. A police official said there were signboards near the dam warning people not to venture out into the water, but many tourists never pay heed to them.

Superintendent of Police, Ramanagaram district, Anupam Agarwal said there were a few barricades at the entrance of the dam, but many picnickers get in through another route. He said security measures are undertaken by the Irrigation Department.

Police officials said that the water was nearly 70 ft in depth. At least seven persons have drowned in the last three months, including the death of the four youths on Monday.