Two teenaged students drowned in Subernarekha on Friday afternoon in a picnic gone horribly wrong at scenic Kanderbera in Chandil police station area of adjoining Seraikela-Kharsawan, about 20km from Jamshedpur.
The duo have been identified as Sambhav Kumar and Naveen Kumar Singh, both 18-year-old, who were part of a 10-member picnic team.
While the two were swept away, villagers dragged out their friend Abhishek from the river in the nick of time.
The body of Sambhav, a Karim City College intermediate student of commerce and Jugsalai resident, was fished out later by divers pressed by the police.
The body of Naveen, a Rajendra Vidyalaya plus two student who stayed in Sonari, has not yet been traced.
The 10 friends, planning an impromptu picnic, had reached Kanderbera on five bikes around 1pm. They had planned a quick stopover at the scenic spot before heading out for lunch at one of the numerous dhabas dotting the road to Chandil.
But soon after parking their bikes, Sambhav, Naveen and Abhishek — incidentally a Dehradun engineering student on vacation — decided to take a dip in the river even though none of them knew how to swim.
As they navigated along the slope of the bank, villagers warned them not to venture farther, pointing out the free fall of the sandy bank.
Unheeding the warning, the trio somehow stumbled to the edge of the river. But as soon as they put their feet in the water, they slipped and were swept away in a matter of seconds.
Their seven friends standing on the shore as well as bystanders quickly raised an alarm, but only Abhishek could be pulled out.
Chandil police circle inspector O.P. Singh confirmed the drowning of the two young boys. “We recovered the body of one around 4pm, nearly three hours after the tragedy. Divers had kept up the search for the other boy till 6pm. But after sundown, the place is completely dark. So the divers abandoned the attempt and will resume search tomorrow morning,” said the inspector.
He added that the police had sent Sambhav’s body to MGM Medical College for post-mortem.
The sharp slopes along Subernarekha’s banks are caused by unauthorised sand-lifters. Sand-lifting on riverbanks goes unchecked to feed the massive demand of real estate construction along the Kanderbera stretch, damaging the natural slopes and increasing the risk of drowning.