Floods
The boat of the rescuers capsized due to a sudden change in current.

For two hours, Gautham, an SDRF personnel tasked with rescue operations in flood-affected north Karnataka, felt the tables turn on him. Flood waters raging around him, Gautam clung to a tree as the dramatic rescue operation unfolded in Virupapur Gaddi. 

Gautham was on an NDRF boat with four other rescuers when they set out to retrieve a group of farmers and civilians that were stuck on an island in the Tunga River. “But during the second sortie, there was a sudden change in the current and the boat capsized. Due to the current, four of them were swept to the riverbank itself. But, he (Gautham) was stuck in the water and was getting swept downstream. Luckily, he caught a tree,” said Kishore, control room officer of NDRF.

“It was great that he managed to hold onto the tree for so long, as 100 metres downstream there is a huge drop in the altitude and he could have lost his life,” he added.

An Indian Air Force helicopter was deployed to rescue Gautham. Amidst raucous cheering, a video shows the helicopter releasing a safety harness and hoisting Gautam away from the waters. 

“Since the waters were so rough, there was no other way to rescue this man. They sought the IAF’s help when it became evident that even motorised boats could not go and fetch him,” according to defence spokesperson Guru Prasad. 

It was not immediately clear whether the other four rescuers on the capsized boat had reached safe ground. Guru Prasad said that two rescuers were swept by the tide, and the second person was rescued by an NDRF boat. 

“Three of them swam to safety but two others were swept away. One managed to cling to a tree down the stream while one was rescued by another NDRF boat later on. The person who was there in the tree stayed for close to two hours as other NDRF men tried to rescue him,” he said.