About 100 pilgrims, most of them from Karnataka, have been trapped in two lodges in the heavily flooded pilgrim centre of Mantralayam in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh since the early hours of Friday.
Braving rain and inclement weather, the trapped pilgrims have been spending several hours on the terrace of the two lodges, without food and drinking water. Rescue/relief had not reached them till evening.
Around 1 a.m. water from the overflowing Tungabhadra gushed into the two lodges of the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Corporation, situated in a low-lying area. As water entered the ground, first and second floor rooms, scared inmates rushed to the terrace, Padmanabha of Chickaballapur, one of the trapped pilgrims, told The Hindu over phone. “We are all standing in the open on the terrace and no one has come to our rescue. We have been telephoning our friends and relatives to inform the authorities of our plight,” he said. As the water-level continued to rise, the hapless pilgrims just kept praying the God to save them, Mr. Padmanabha said.
Sridhar, a pilgrim from Bellary, kept making frantic calls to his relatives in Bangalore to inform the senior officials of their plight. His situation was apparently the worst as his two children, one aged six months and the other two years, and elderly relatives had to go without food for several hours.
There were many senior citizens and children among those trapped in the two adjoining lodges. It was said that there were around 70 people in one lodge and 25 in the other. Many of them were from Bellary, Chickaballapur, Bangalore, Chitradurga and other places in Karnataka.
Around 4 p.m., Mr. Sridhar telephoned a police officer known to him in Bangalore and told him: “Helicopters are making sorties here. But they are not rescuing us. Please inform the pilots to pick us up.”
While reports said that towards evening IAF helicopters had rescued 15 persons from Mantralayam, it was not clear whether those rescued were from the two lodges or the flooded villages around the pilgrim centre.
A senior police officer opined that in view of the fading light, there were remote chances of airlifting/rescuing the trapped pilgrims on Friday.
With the mobile phones of the most of the trapped victims going dead towards afternoon, their relatives turned anxious as no communication was possible.
Earlier in the day, on learning about the plight of the trapped pilgrims, Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs S. Suresh Kumar, spoke to the Director-General and Inspector-General of Police Ajai Kumar Singh in this regard. “The DGP is aware of the situation and he said that IAF helicopters have been pressed into service,” Mr. Kumar told The Hindu.