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2 Oct 2018

Rafting death in Teesta

VIVEK CHHETRI, TT, 02 Oct 2018, Darjeeling: A tourist from Maharashtra on Monday died while rafting on the Teesta after she slipped off the raft while negotiating a rapid.

Rapid are unstable currents in the river and many rafters are of the opinion that the most exciting part in rafting is to negotiate rapid.

The group of 20-Maharasthians from Amravati had decided to raft along river Teesta on their way to Darjeeling from Pelling in Sikkim. The team was to catch a flight on October 3.

Kalpana Rathi, 55, was who accompanied by his husband Ashok, slipped and fell off the raft. The raft, however, did not capsize. She died on her way to Kalimpong district hospital, about 17km from the spot. Kalpana was first taken to a primary health centre at Melli.

Suraj Chhetri, a rafter, said: "While negotiating a rapid, one of the rafters slipped and fell on the water. She was wearing a life jacket. The guide, too, jumped into the river and pulled her ashore, dragging for about 25 to 30 meters." The group, which had started rafting from 7th Mile had just crossed the Melli Bridge area when the mishap took place at around 2 pm. The duration of rafting is approximately 40 minutes.

Of the 20 members in the group, 18 had decided to try the sport and had divided into three groups of six members each. Each group had taken a raft.

Rajendra Bihani, a fellow traveler said: "We saw her slipping and the guide too jumped into the water. We, however, believe that more emphasis should be on immediate response to such emergencies. The vehicle (to transport the victim to the nearby hospital) took a bit longer to arrive." Fellow tourist said that they are of the opinion that Rathi was alive when she was pulled on the river bank. It is, however, not yet confirmed whether she died of shock or after taking water while being rescued from the river.

This is the second death along this stretch this year.

On May 9, 2018, Roshan Singh, 38, a resident of Muzaffarpur had also died after the raft had capsized.

Following the incident, Kalimpong distict administration, police and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration had formed a committee to keep a tab on rafting.

Sonam Tsewang Yakha, chairman, GTA tourism advisory board, said: "After the incident we had suspended rafting until we checked all rafts and the equipments being used. We then issued a temporary licence to the rafters with a directive that permanent licence would be issued after rafters get obtain a training licence from a competent authority."

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