A newly built snake boat of the Thekkemuri Karayogam, Thekkemuri Palliyodam, was launched into the Pampa at Parappuzhakadavu in the Mallappuzhasserry panchayat, near Aranmula, on Thursday.

The ceremonial launch was marred by the drowning of Sreelal, 19, of Mallappuzhasserry in the river. The incident occurred a few seconds after Jayaraj, film director, launched the boat.

As many as 150 people had taken the boat to the river bank. Sreelal and his friend Rahul fell into the river in the bustle of people who tried to get into the boat.

Mr. Rahul was rescued in a few minutes. But Sreelal could be traced only after about 20 minutes. He was rushed to a private hospital in Kozhencherry, where he was declared dead. Sreelal was studying a travel and tourism course, along with Mr. Rahul, at a private institute in Adoor.

The body was handed over to his relatives after a post-mortem examination. The cremation will be held in the residential courtyard on Friday, relatives said.

P.J. Kurien, MP, Kummanam Rajashekharan, Hindu Aikyavedi general secretary, and Krishnaprasad, television personality, were present at the launch.

Prof. Kurien, Mr. Jayaraj, Mr. Rajashekharan, K. Sivadasan Nair, MLA, and K.V. Sambadevan, Palliyoda Seva Sanghom president, mourned Sreelal.

A team of craftsmen, headed by the master craftsman Changamkari Venu Achary, built the boat at a cost of Rs.30 lakh.

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