Tragedy struck a group of Keralites touring Nepal when eight of them, including four children, died due to a suspected gas leak from a heater in their room at a mountainous resort.
The victims were identified as Praveen Krishnan Nair, Saranya Sasi, Sreebhadra Praveen, Aarcha Praveen, Abhinav Saranya Nair, Ranjith Kumar Adatholath Punathil, Indu Lakshmi Peethambaran Ragalatha and Vyshnav Ranjith.
Praveen, who hails from Chengottukonam in Thiruvananthapuram, was an engineer in Dubai, while his wife, Saranya, a nursing student, was staying at Kochi along with three children. Their whole family died in the incident.
A neighbour said Praveen and family had visited their home where his aged parents are staying, during Onam festival last September and were active in all functions.
Ranjit was working in an IT firm at Thiruvananthapuram, while his wife, Indu, an accountant in a cooperative bank at Kozhikode, a family member said.
They hailed from Kozhikode in north Kerala. Ranjit’s elder son Madhav, however, had a lucky escape as he was sleeping in another room.
The deceased — two couples and four children — were part of a group of 15 people travelling from Kerala to Pokhara, a popular mountainous tourist destination.
According to reports, Praveen had taken the lead for organising the trip following a get-together of his engineering college batchmates in New Delhi.
“He was the most loved in our group as he was always neutral. He never took sides. And whenever there were differences,” he acted as the bridge,” Sandeep, a friend was quoted as saying by Manorama news.
The group had chosen Nepal as one friend Ram Kumar was working in Darjeeling in Food Corporation of India and had joined the trip.
They were on their way back home and had stayed at Everest Panorama Resort in Daman in Makawanpur district on Monday night.
According to the resort’s manager, the Kerala tourists stayed in a room and turned on a gas heater to keep themselves warm.
Although they had booked four rooms, eight of them stayed in a room and the remaining others in another room, the manager said, adding that all the windows and the door of the room were bolted from inside.
The victims seem to have become unconscious due to asphyxiation and were airlifted to HAMS hospital in Kathmandu where they were pronounced dead on arrival, said Sushil Singh Rathaur, superintendent of police, Makwanpur in Nepal.
Nepal witnesses cold wave condition between December and January. Daman is a famous hill station situated 70-km south of Kathmandu, where people visit for a magnificent view of the Himalayas.
However, the tragedy left everyone shocked.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condoled the death of tourists and directed officials to expedite procedures for the repatriation of the mortal remains of the victims.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has condoled the passing away of eight Malayali tourists in Nepal. On the directions of the Chief Minister, NORKA officials have taken steps to expedite procedures for the repatriation of the mortal remains.
— CMO Kerala (@CMOKerala) January 21, 2020
Officials have gotten in touch with the Nepalese authorities and the bodies are expected to be brought to the state on Wednesday after post-mortem.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar too tweeted his regrets, saying he was “deeply distressed by the tragic news of the passing away of eight Indian tourists in Nepal”.
Deeply distressed by the tragic news of the passing away of 8 Indian tourists in Nepal.Our Embassy @IndiaInNepal hs been closely following the situation.Embassy officials are stationed at the hospital& are providing necessary assistance.Our thoughts are with the bereaved families
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) January 21, 2020
He said the Indian embassy officials are stationed at the hospital and are providing necessary assistance.
Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said that Indian Embassy officials were taking steps to bring the bodies back to India as early as possible.