A young man holding a child, running across a sinking bridge in Kerala, has become the defining image of the weather disaster that has struck the state, claiming 37 lives and led to flooding in many parts.
Kanhaiya Kumar, an NDRF constable from Bihar has turned into a hero for many in Kerala which is reeling under the threat of flood and landslides. Visuals of the man, captured by News18 Kerala and Malayala Manorama, dashing across a bridge carrying a child has gone viral on social media.
The bridge was submerged minutes after they crossed it. This incident happened on Friday in Idukki district, where for the first time, all five shutters of a dam of Idukki reservoir were opened few days ago.
At one end of the bridge, Mr Kumar saw a man holding the child, waiting to cross the bridge as the raging river water came gushing down. The NDRF constable wasted no time and ran towards the man and the child.
“I did not even have time to ask who the man was. I knew they had to cross and they were scared. They were many people on the side I was standing. Politicians, locals, officials, but nothing else mattered to me and I dashed off, carried the kid, and ran back, with the father following me,” Mr Kumar told NDTV.
For the first time, all five gates of one of the dams of the Idukki water reservoir was opened.
Minutes after they crossed the bridge, it was inundated.
“I am not new to this. I have six years of experience. With that experience , and my well-thought decision.
Kanhaiya Kumar, who has been working for six years, is trained in deep-diving from the the fourth batallion of NDRF at Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu and has been part of several disaster rescue and relief operations across India, including Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh.
“My team and I are very proud of Kanhaiya. It’s not just for himself. He has brought appreciation not just for himself, but entire NDRF,” NDRV sub-inspector Mahavir Singh told NDTV.
In Kerala, 37 people have died since August 8 due to incessant rain and landslides. The weather office has warned of heavy rain till August 14. Over 35,000 people have been evacuated from the affected areas.
Fourteen teams of 404 NDRF rescuers have spread themselves across affected areas in Kerala – in Idukki, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur – help the state government authorities with relief work and give medical support to the people.