Athirapilly: A wild elephant was swept away by the swirling flood waters of the Chalakkudy river, but it fought against the turbulent waters for nearly seven hours before finally swimming to safety.
The previous night's incessant rains forced the authorities to open the shutters of the Peringalkuthu Dam, resulting in a sudden surge in the river water level and that of the famous Athirapilly waterfalls.
The gushing waters caught the wild tusker unaware, and it was swept away by the raging waters at Pillappara bathing ghat around 6 in the morning.
The residents first thought it was a giant boulder before they realized it was an elephant desperately attempting to wade through the swirling waters. Soon a crowd assembled at the shore, and the police and the Fire force officials arrived at the spot. Their efforts to rescue the tusker turned futile in the fast-flowing waters.
The elephant got swept away over 100 meters downstream, but it managed to get to an eyot in the middle of the river. The terrified animal stood there for nearly four hours, fighting the raging waters, before getting exhausted. In a desperate attempt to save its life, the elephant attempted to swim toward the shore. But it lost balance and again got caught in the deluge many times. After a valiant fight, it finally managed to reach the shores and rushed into the forest near the border area of the Ernakulam district.
According to villagers, the tusker is the one that frequently strays into human habitation in the Athirapilly-Vazhachal region.
Earlier, the attempts of the authorities to save the elephant by closing the shutters of the Peringalkuthu Dam turned futile, as the water from the Parambikulam dam, the shutters of which were open in the wake of heavy rains, continued to gush down the streams.
Another elephant got caught in the flood waters in the morning similarly but managed to get to the shore at Thumboormuzhi. It entered the farmland of Kudakkachira Kuriachan and fled to the Kumbalaammudi hills in the Pariyaram range by crossing the Anamalai road as the workers raised the alarm.