It was a harrowing experience for 53 workers and drivers of sand lorries who were trapped in the Vamsadhara near Purushottamapuram of Sarubujjili mandal when water level suddenly rose at the sand reach they were mining on Sunday night.

The river had been in spate for the last couple of days with heavy rains in the catchment area of Odisha. According to sources, illegal mining was rampant in the area during night time.

All of them reportedly entered the river as the water was flowing below the knee level.

They were caught unawares by the huge inflows from the Gotta barrage from where irrigation officials had released 37,000 cusecs.

The labourers screamed for help and called 108 ambulance service and the nearby police stations through mobiles. All of them climbed up the lorries to save themselves. The district administration responded quickly and sent task force teams of the Fire Service department. According to sources, officials contacted the Navy but the response was not positive.

Srikakulam Collector K. Dhananjaya Reddy, SP CM Thrivikram Varma and Srikakulam DSP V. Bhimarao coordinated the rescue operation and ensured all the trapped reach the land safely. Family members and hundreds of villagers also reached the spot. However, three earth movers and 30 lorries were stuck in the river.

The district administration ordered an inquiry over the presence of more than 30 lorries. Mining should not be taken up during the night time even if they had valid licence. The Collector reportedly directed the mining and revenue officials to submit a report about the vehicles and verify the records.

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu congratulated the police and the revenue officials on the prompt action.

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