Watery grave for eight in Laggala

The members of two families who went bathing in the Thelgamuwa Oya in Laggala in Matale, faced tragedy when eight of them died after been swept by a current on November 4 afternoon.

Laggala Police said the dead included four children, two males and two females.

The dead are a tourist hotel owner named Kingsley Ratnayake (40) his two daughters Ratnayake Mudiyanselage Chitrani Ratnayake (12), Ratnayake Mudiyanselage Hiruni Dilhara Ratnayake (4) his aunt Manawitage Chandrakanthi (59), other family members Uduwarage Ravindra Wasantha (38) his wife Jayamaha Archchige Ramani Dilrukshi (37) and their daughters Uduwarage Krishan Wanisha (12) and Udwanage Imasha Widusha (7).

Kingsley Ratnayake who is building a hotel at Etanwala had visited the area with his family and a friend’s family on November 3 morning. Kingsley’s wife Dulka Marasinghe said the two families later went for a bath in the Thelgamu Oya at a spot called Wedda Peri Ella.

When they ventured into the Oya the water was upto only knee level. But, suddenly a high tide gushed in and swept away some of the people while three managed to survived by huddling together. After hearing their cries for help, the people in the area had rushed in to search for the missing people.

They were later joined in by Laggala Police and life saving teams. The bodies of five persons were retrieved by the search parties by November 4 evening. Search operations were continuing to find the bodies of the missing three children.

Dumbara Mithuro Environmental Organisation president Nimal Kanaheraarachchi commenting on the tragedy said Wedda Peri Ella is a popular halting spot among local and foreign tourists.

“The lack of any warning signs or boards about the unexpected danger involved in the high water level led to such loss of valuable lives,” he said. 

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