Dam Disaster hits Pilgrims
Dateline Boodle Q2, 3199.324
Police in the central continent have found the bodies of 154 Hindu pilgrims who were swept away by dam water released by mistake. At least 1000 others are missing after water from the Indira Banji dam hit a popular bathing spot. About 300,000 pilgrims had gathered to pray on the river banks when water levels rose suddenly. Dam officials admit releasing water but say they were not told of the holy bathing.
Police say between 1000 and 1200 people are still unaccounted for, but acknowledge that the number of casualties could top 165. Many were sleeping on the river banks when they were washed away. Some estimates say more than 250 people could be missing, the INN’s reporter in the planetary capital, Parker City, reports. “Lifeguards on the banks of the river rescued many people,” one police officer told INN. He said pilgrims had been sleeping by the river when disaster struck. Search and rescue teams spent the weekend recovering bodies after gates had been hurriedly closed at the dam about 100km upstream. “Several people are missing from our group which comprised nearly 440 people. We have sent out boats to try and find them,” one pilgrim, Krishna Kumar, told INN.
Police say hundreds of anxious relatives are seeking information about loved ones. The state administration says it was not warned of the water release in advance. But SK Dodeja, the head of the government-run Narmada Water Management Development Corporation, said the release was routine. He blamed local authorities for not warning dam officials of the Hindu fair. “It was the district administration’s job to warn us of the crowds congregating on the banks of the rivier,” he told reporters. “Lack of co-ordination between the local authorities and ourselves led to the misunderstanding.”
Chief Development Minister Gaur, who visited the site of the disaster, has announced an investigation and compensation for families of the dead. Soldiers are patrolling the banks of the river – the largest, and most heavily dammed rivers on the continent. More than 3,000 dams are being built across the river and its tributaries as part of the controversial Big Valley project. It has led to hundreds of families being moved from surrounding villages. Supporters of the project say it will bring water to millions and help generate vital electricity. Critics say the human and environmental costs are too high.