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 Sudden current gushes forth towards water level of only knee level ... grabs 8 members of 2 families to doom!

Sudden current gushes forth towards water level of only knee level ... grabs 8 members of 2 families to doom!

A most unfortunate accident of 8 individuals of 2 families who had gone to bathe at Thelgamuwa Oya, Laggala being swept away by a current was reported day before yesterday. Not knowing that the current increases when showers come down on high regions from Waddapeni Waterfall, a group of people who had been bathing at a spot where water was only at knee level had faced this tragedy.

Mr. Kingsley Ratnayaka, a deceased victim was an ice cream businessman. This incident has taken place when a restaurant
of his was in the process of being constructed close to Thelgamuwa Oya, Laggala these days and one of his neighbours, Ravindra Lasantha had got together with members of two families to celebrate his birthday.

Among the deceased is an owner of a tourist hotel, Kingsley Ratnayaka (40), Chandika Ratnayaka (11), Dilhara Ratnayaka (4), the aunt Chandrakanthi (50) and members of the other family which included Ravindra Wasantha (33), his wife Ramani Dilrukshi (37), their daughter Vanisha (12) and Vidushya (7), all numbering 8. Mrs. Ruvani Dilrukshi is a school teacher. She was serving Nattandiya Janadhipathi Vidyalaya while the two daughters Rishadi and Dimashi were studying at Nattandiya Dhammissara National School in year 7 and year 3 respectively.

The deceased Mr. Kinsley Ratnayaka was building a tourist hotel in Atenwala, Laggala and had come to Nattandiya with the group of this friendly family last 3rd morning to Atenwala in Laggala. This is how Mrs. Dulika Marasingha wife of the deceased husband described the incident: "Our husband is erecting a hotel in this area. A few days before this he came and inspected the proceedings. There was a birthday of a friend of our husband. They said that they can travel in that area and have some fun. They are residents down our own road. We really came here on the 3rd. When we stepped down to the water, the wasn't water even upto knee level. My chooty duwa was in the water. The others were some distance away and her pair of slippers began to drift away in the waters; she even tried to get them back. Some others were bathing there. I went to where father was, to give him the slippers. I went towards him after telling a person to hold the small fellow. Then father said that the flow of water was rushing at a high speed. I went there promptly. When the water was rushing fast, everybody was holding to each other like a clique. I yelled shouting "come ashore ... come ashore!" But just then the flow of water became worse. First of all the grip they were holding on to began to break off. At the same time each of them started being dragged away. My husband was dragged away and held on to a vine and was trying to come ashore for a long time. Some people who were there gave an iron rod to his hand and tried to take him up. Just when he trying to get hold of the iron rod he missed it and my husband got drifted away. My husband ... my two children ... my mother got washed away. Other members of the family who came with us .. his wife ... their two children all got drifted away.

When the people were caught in the current, the villagers came there and started search operations and Laggala Police as well as Police Life-saving officers arrived on the scene and joined in search activities. The police and villagers together managed to bring up 4 dead bodies by day before (4) afternoon while search operations for dead bodies of 3 children were underway, continuously.

What villagers said was that when heavy rains fall towards high elevations from the waterfall, all of a sudden a huge current of water is experienced. Though the villagers are well aware of it they say that many of those who come to tour that place are ignorant about it.

Pix -- courtesy by Lankadeepa 

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