On January 2, 2019, a passenger boat capsized in the Mahanadi river of Odisha, putting the lives of over 50 passengers at high risk. Although the tragedy resulted in the loss of ten lives, had it not been for the courage of three teenaged girls, the death toll could have been higher.
Subhasmita Sahoo had gone on a picnic with her mother, sister and three nieces, to the idyllic Hukitola island to celebrate the New Year. The family was on a boat with 55 other tourists and were returning to Paradip when the mishap took place at around 7:00 p.m. near the Nipania village.
The boat capsized, taking down all the 55 passengers aboard. It was a winter evening, and the crocodile-infested Mahanadi waters were freezing.
Subhasmita was one of the passengers who was trapped beneath the boat. Speaking to the New Indian Express, the commerce student said,
“My neck was trapped in a piece of wood. I somehow freed myself and swam to the shore.”
However, when she saw a group of children struggling, she dove right back into the water to save them. “We were given a new lease of life by Subhasmita,” said one of the 12 children rescued by her.
Meanwhile, the other passengers were screaming in the desperate hope that someone would rescue them. Their voices were heard by Sasmita and Purnima Giri— two sisters who were within earshot. Without giving a thought to the dangerous waters, the sisters rushed to their rescue.
“The two brave girls managed to save at least 10 [people], including two women and some children, from meeting a watery grave,” Nalini Kantu Sahu, a resident, told the Deccan Chronicle.
Speaking to the publication, the Giri sisters said, “We rescued as many persons as we could. However, we were saddened to see others drowning in the river as they were trapped under the boat which had overturned.”
Together, the three brave girls managed to save over 22 lives!
The Odisha government has felicitated the Giri sisters although Subhasmita is still awaiting recognition. Locals are urging authorities to recognise her brave efforts and nominate her for a bravery award.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)