A 60-year-old man in flood-hit Karnataka has come out alive two days after he jumped into a swollen river.
Many people had to take shelter in the relief camps leaving their belongings behind as the floodgates of the Kabini reservoir were opened over the weekend and water inundated the Nanjangud town, 169 km southwest of Bengaluru.
However, Venkatesh Murthy, 60, saw it as an opportunity to challenge the swollen Kapila river. On Saturday morning, he took a plunge into the furious river and remained missing for more than two days.
The video of Murthy jumping into the river went viral on social media and many speculated that he was no more. News channels too counted him in the list of the flood victims. His family searched for him, but to no avail.
While reports of his death were being circulated, Murthy emerged alive on Monday, much to the amazement of the locals. "Yes, he is alive. He had come to the police station in the evening," a Nanjangud rural police station officer told PTI.
However, his safe return did not surprise his sister Manjula, who says this was not the first time that Murthy had jumped into the river. "He has been doing it for the past 25-30 years," she told PTI.
Though Manjula was confident of Murthy's return, his disappearance for two days left her worried.
"Never ever he took more than half-an-hour to return safe," she said. "This time he was trapped at a pillar of Hejjige bridge and remained there for two days."
People standing on the Hejjige bridge saw Venkatesh Murthy in the river on Saturday and tried to save him by throwing a rope. But on seeing him disappearing in the strong current of Kapila, they assumed that he was no more.
"I usually swam from the middle of the pillars, but the current was so strong that I opted to hold the pillar. That was a mistake as I was trapped in the weeds stuck there," Murthy told a news channel.
Somehow, he managed to climb on the chamber of the bridge and remained there for 60 hours and came out from there once the flood receded.
Defying his age, the temple priest had travelled across the country -- from Kashmir to Kanyakumari -- covering a distance of 10,000 km a few years ago on his battered bicycle.
The rains and flood have caused massive damage in several districts of Karnataka, with the number of deaths rising to 54 and nearly four lakh people taking shelter in relief camps. The situation improved on Tuesday with water receding in the affected areas.