Disaster drill goes awry as girl student falls to death

July 13, 2018 12:00 am | Updated 05:06 am IST - COIMBATORE

Exercise part of NDMAI training, claim college officials

A video grab of Logeswari being pushed during the NDRF drill in Coimbatore on Thursday.

A video grab of Logeswari being pushed during the NDRF drill in Coimbatore on Thursday.

An undergraduate student of a private college in Coimbatore banged her head on a sunshade and died after being pushed from the second floor ledge by an ill-prepared trainer during a disaster preparedness drill conducted on the campus on Thursday. The trainer has been detained.

A video recording of the tragic incident showed the victim N. Logeswari, 19, who was reluctant to jump off from the sunshade, being nudged and pushed by the trainer as part of an emergency response drill.

While a group of students was waiting on the ground to catch her with a net, the girl banged her head on the sunshade and sustained injuries which proved fatal. Logeswari was in the second year of a BBA degree course.

Authorities of the Kovai Kalaimagal College of Arts and Science in Narasipuram told the police that the drill was conducted by the National Disaster Management Authority of India (NDMAI).

Higher Education Minister K.P. Anbalagan said an inquiry would be conducted into the incident and action would be taken against those found guilty.

However, Rajendra Ratnoo, Commissioner (Disaster Management), Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Agency, which functions under the NDMAI, told The Hindu, that he was not aware of the training that was conducted at the college. “All training sessions of the NDMAI are conducted only through the District Collector,” he said.

Coimbatore (Rural) Superintendent of Police Pa Moorthy said that the police are interrogating R. Arumugam, who claimed to be a trainer with the NDMAI, to check his credentials.

The police, based on preliminary inquiries at the college, said at least five students had already completed the task of jumping off the second floor and were safely held with a net. Logeswari, a resident of Ration Shop Street in Nathegoundenpudur near Alandurai, was sixth in line to undertake the task which turned fatal.

Immediately after she sustained injuries on her head, she was taken to a private hospital in Thondamuthur where she was administered first aid. Doctors there referred her to the State-run Coimbatore Medical College Hospital, where she was declared “brought dead”.

The Alandurai police said the tragedy took place around 4 p.m. Jumping from the second floor of the three-storied building was one of the drills.

Though The Hindu made several attempts to contact the college principal N. Mala for details about the training, she did not respond to the calls. Officers of the Police and Fire and Rescue Services Department said they had not received any intimation from the college about the training.

The Alandurai police said that they are yet to receive a complaint from the victim’s parents. Nonetheless, a senior police officer said that a case would be registered against the college and the trainer for conducting the drill with “utter negligence and without adequate safety measures.”

Logeswari’s body has been kept at the CMCH mortuary, where a post-mortem will be conducted on Friday.

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