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Ramakanta Biswas

The death of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) jawan Sitaram Murmu, who had undertaken many risky rescue operations on the line of duty in the past and saved scores of lives, in the boat capsize incident at Mundali, has left many people perplexed.  

Murmu’s body was recovered near Kakhadi in Athagarh area, 24 hours after the ODRAF boat capsized during an operation launched to rescue a stranded elephant at Mundali barrage.

While OTV’s Chief Reporter Arindam Das lost his life in the mishap, Murmu was missing. Some locals spotted the body of Murmu near Kakhadi in Athagarh area and contacted the ODRAF team. 

Dusmanta Swain, associate fire officer, Athagarh said “Search operation was undertaken since 7 am today and our team members spotted something floating and later identified Murmu by the uniform.”

However, Murmu’s relatives and those knew him personally are in utter disbelief as to how a man who had faced many such challenges and saved over 500 people during his service career could lose his life in the water.

“My brother was one of the best drivers of ODRAF team. He rescued hundreds of people during emergencies. Be it flood or storm, he rescued many people. Sometimes he had to dive into deep waters to rescue people. He had received many awards for his courageous works,” said the deceased’s brother. 

On the other hand, two members of ODRAF team and OTV cameraman Pravat Sinha who were injured in the boat mishap are recovering at the SCB Medical College and Hospital. 

“The health condition of OTV’s cameraman and two ODRAF team members are stable. As the mishap resulted in physical and emotional trauma, the patients have been kept under observation. After receiving report of their complete parameters, decision will be taken on their discharge. It may take up to 72 hours,” SCB emergency officer Bhubanananda Maharana said. 

Meanwhile, there is no trace of the elephant whose rescue operation led to the boat tragedy at the Mundali barrage. The tusker was found sinking in water late last night. Some locals had tried to drive him away from the water, but in vain. 
Athagarh ACF Harekrushna Mallick said, “The elephant was swept away and has not been traced as yet.” 

During the search operation, the carcass of a four-month-old elephant was found on the bank of Mahanadi near Upper Patani village. Veterinarians confirmed that the carcass was of a baby elephant who died of drawing.

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