5 Delhi NCC cadets drown in Kerala

Five NCC cadets from Delhi drowned in the Periyar river in Kerala on Wednesday when one of them reportedly fell into the waters and the others tried to save him, officials said.

The tragedy took place in Malayatoor village in Ernakulam district, about 250 km from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

The five were identified as Hemanta Kumar, 15, Gulvez Ahamed, Dilshad Alam, Tabish Baqri and Mohammed Zeeshan, all 18.

Officials said their bodies would be flown to New Delhi in a special military aircraft on Wednesday night or Thursday.

All five were part of a large group of NCC cadets who were in Kerala to take part in a national trekking camp that began on Sunday.

Village official Radhakrishnan said the spot where they drowned had always been considered a dangerous place and one could go there only with a pass.

‘What we are told is that one student who was washing his face fell into the river and the other four jumped into the river to save their friend,’ he said. ‘In the end all of them drowned.’

Local legislator Jose Thettayil of the Janata Dal-Secular said the five cadets had told officials of the National Cadet Corps that they were going to the Periyar river to take photographs.

Ernakulam District Collector Shaik Pareeth said the families of the five had been informed about the deaths.

While three of the cadets were reportedly brought dead to hospital, the other two died later. Witnesses said the bodies were taken out of the river by forest and fire service officials with the help of locals.

‘The place is treacherous and only experts can manage to swim,’ Thettayil said. Students from 16 states are taking part in the national trekking camp.

Defence Minister A K Antony has asked for a detailed report from the NCC director on the incident.  According to a statement from Directorate General NCC, an ex gratia compensation of Rs 3.5 lakh per cadet has been released as an immediate relief to the bereaved families from the Raksha Mantri.
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