Chaos erupted on the shores of Harni Lake in Vadodara, as 14 individuals, including 12 children, tragically lost their lives in a drowning incident. The incident unfolded with confusion surrounding the number of passengers on the ill-fated boat and the extent of those missing, prompting urgent responses from senior police officials and the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC).
Rescue efforts were swiftly initiated, drawing attention from municipal commissioner Dilip Rana, who took two hours to confirm the grim details of the casualties. Amid the uncertainty, conflicting reports emerged, with some officials suggesting that four children present at the scene did not board the boat, while others claimed that four school staff members were unaccounted for after the incident.
As the tragedy unfolded, parents of the rescued children anxiously made their way home, leaving authorities scrambling to establish an accurate count of the missing youngsters. The district collectorate officials found themselves similarly uncertain about the exact number of victims, adding to the prevailing sense of confusion.
Amidst the heart-wrenching scene, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs from the city gathered to discuss the repercussions of the incident, placing blame on the VMC for purportedly failing to enforce adequate safety measures. Opposition leader Ami Ravat of the Congress party went further, describing the incident as a clear case of negligence and asserting that it amounted to nothing short of murder.
Harni Lake Tragedy Strong Reactions from Leaders
Ravat voiced strong criticism about the Harni Lake incident, pointing fingers at the contractors and VMC officials involved in the ill-fated contract. Drawing attention to a similar incident in the 1990s, Ravat accused civic authorities of failing to learn from past mistakes and called for a comprehensive investigation, demanding the filing of FIRs against all parties responsible for the tragedy.
The response to the Harni Lake crisis extended beyond local authorities, with both firefighters and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel actively participating in the rescue operations, which continued into the late hours of Thursday night. Employing advanced techniques such as SONAR searches, underwater camera searches, hooks, and fishing nets, rescuers worked tirelessly to recover the bodies from the lake depths. The efforts drew a crowd of onlookers, witnessing the somber rescue operations unfold on the shores of Harni Lake.