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Devbrat Patnaik

Kendrapara: Fifty five people were returning after enjoying a New Year picnic near the Light House at Hukitola Island of the Mahanadi River yesterday. Hardly did they know that only 45 will return home safe. Amid darkness, chaos and the cries of despair, three girls, who were in that ill-fated boat, braved the raging Mahanadi to pull to safety more than 20 other passengers.

No sooner than the tragic news came to fore, fire tenders along with ODRAF team rushed to the spot and launched a rescue operation.

But when the boat capsized in Mahanadi river mouth near Nipania in Kendrapara; there were these three girls who could manage to save as many lives even as the river was swallowing struggling kids and women.

One Subhasmita Sahu, not only swam towards the river mouth, but she put in all her efforts in rescuing eight others.

“First I saved a boy and then dragged two other girls safe onto the boat. Thereafter I pulled my mother and a few others back to the boat,” said Subhasmita

Two minor sisters, Purnima Giri and Sabita Giri also put their life in danger and managed to drag over 10 passengers to safety.

“I feel sad that despite efforts to rescue the people, one is still missing. It would have given me happiness had all people been rescued safely,” said Purnima Giri.

It all happened too soon before anyone could do anything.

Reportedly, the boat was ferrying picnickers who were returning from Hukitola Light House to Kujang area of Paradip.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has congratulated Sabita and Purnima Giri for their heroic act in saving lives of many in the boat tragedy. "They are the real heroes of Odisha and represent the bravery and compassion of young Odisha," said a statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office.

As many as 9 people including two women and seven children, mostly from Hasina village in Kujang area of Jagatsinghpur, lost their lives in the tragic incident, while one person was still missing till last reports were filed in.

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