Sanjeev Kumar Pradhan

Cuttack:  After an eight-hour-long operation, forest officials were able to rescue five elephants that were swept away today near Mundali by floodwater in Mahanadi River.

As per reports, a joint operation by the officials of Chandaka, Athagarh and Cuttack forest divisions was taken up to rescue the pachyderms. As the elephants were trapped between Mundali and Naraj, three gates of Mundali barrage were closed and four gates of Naraj were opened as a result of which the water level in the river declined allowing the elephants to safely move out of water and return back to the Chandaka forest, informed sources.

According to sources, one of the elephants was able to make it to the river bank at Anantpur whereas another moved out of water at Brajabiharpur. The other elephants trapped in the river were rescued after four gates of Naraj barrage were opened. Reportedly, the elephants were swept away for 5 kms towards Naraj from Mundali.

Meanwhile, forest officials are keeping a close watch on the movement of the elephants.

“We are alert and steps are being taken to safely evacuate the elephants so that they can move to the forest without harming anyone,” said Ramakanta Nayak, ACF Chandaka forest division.

Earlier today, at least five elephants were swept away by floodwater in Mahanadi River near Mundali.

The incident took place when a herd of around 20 elephants was crossing the River from Athagarh side towards Chandaka forest.

According to sources, the wild elephants used to cross the river on a daily basis, but due to heavy current in the river due to flooding triggered by rain induced by cyclone Titli, the jumbos were swept away today.