Forest feast turns tragic as six AP youth get washed away in stream

The friends, who were holding each other's hands, were washed away in the stream which was in spate.
Swimmers retrieving the bodies
Swimmers retrieving the bodies
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A celebration to bring good tidings turned into a tragedy after six teenagers between the ages of 15 and 16 drowned in the Pedda Vagu rivulet in West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh. The deceased were identified as Gangadhara Venkata Rao (16), Siramula Sivaji (16), Koonavarapu Radhakrishna (15), Gottuparthi Manoj (16), Karnati Ranjith (15) and Kella Sai (16). All of them were natives of Bhudevipeta.

According to reports, villagers from Bhudevipeta hamlet in Velerupadu mandal went to Vasanthavada village to celebrate ‘vanabhojanam’ (feast in forest), which they observe annually after the Dasara festival.  

At around 10.30 am, while others were engaged in cooking food, the deceased crossed the Pedda Vagu stream to fetch water. While returning they changed their path, where the water was too deep, estimated to be about 10-15 feet and 50 feet wide. The stream was in spate due to the recent heavy rains. A deep hole had formed at the curves of the stream and one of the boys slipped into it. His friend who was holding him, too, got swept away. Likewise, all of the friends holding their hands as a chain were washed away, The Times of India reported.

Subsequently, after being alerted, the police launched a search with expert swimmers and retrieved the bodies of the boys. The autopsy was conducted at the same spot and the bodies were handed over to their families. The government has announced a Rs 3 lakh ex-gratia to the families of the deceased. Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan, who learnt about the incident, expressed grief and conveyed condolences to the bereaved families.

Speaking about the incident, Deputy Chief Minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas assured all possible help from the government to the bereaved families. He further instructed the district officials to take necessary precautionary steps to prevent such tragedies from taking place in the future.

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