On Friday evening, the 5th shutter of the Cheruthoni dam in Idukki was opened. In minutes, the river water charged forward in full speed. On the Cheruthoni bridge, a few metres away from the dam, a man was seen running holding a child close to his chest across the Cheruthoni bridge as the water started flowing over it.
This visual, captured by a News 18 cameraman from Idukki in Kerala has since gone viral. Aired on Friday, the clip showed a rescue officer in a blue rain coat and umbrella running across the bridge which stood in the middle of an overflowing river.
The officer risked his life to get the feverish child to the hospital on the other end of the bridge. Behind the officer were two other men running along with him in their collective attempts to save the child's life. On one side of the Cheruthoni bridge is the town and hospital, and on the other side are a few houses and a mosque. If the child had not been evacuated on time and taken to the hospital, he could have been marooned for hours there without medical help.
And this video I think defines the rescue efforts in Kerala. A rescue official runs with a child just as the water starts gushing over the Cheruthoni dam. pic.twitter.com/dbOMw5UYt2— Dhanya Rajendran (@dhanyarajendran) August 11, 2018
The brave officer has been identified as Kanhaiya Kumar, an National Disaster Rescue Force personnel and a native of Bihar who was stationed in Idukki to undertake relief and rescue operations.
According to reports, it was merely minutes after the 5th and final shutter of the dam had been opened that Kanhaiya Kumar attempted the brave act. He had seen two people gesturing wildly from the other side of the bridge frantically, and they had a child with them. As there was no alternative route, Kanhaiya immediately ran to the other side.
"I saw two men calling for help frantically. I was on one side of the bridge controlling crowds. I ran to the other side and carried the child and rushed to cross the bridge before it was submerged," Kanhaiya told News 18.
The bridge connects a hilly terrain of Idukki to the Cheruthoni town on the other side. It is in the Cheruthoni town that the nearest hospital was located 2 kms away.
The Cheruthoni dam is completely submerged now
All five shutters of the Idukki dam had to be opened on Friday evening due to the rising water levels in the Idukki reservoir following relentless rainfall. With the water level less than 3 feet short of reaching full capacity, 4 lakh litres of water was being released per second from the shutters.
Kanhaiya's brave rescue mission was appreciated by several people including minister G Sudhakaran who came forward to congratulate the officer.