Aralaganwila tragedy: Wijepura mourns the death of 10 villagers

Tractor wheel dislodged indicating a bad omen


Story and pics by W. J. S. S. Ranatunga
in Dehiattakandiya

It was an unspeakable tragedy. Ten persons, including women and children, within the same family circle perished when the hand tractor they were riding to visit relatives plunged into an irrigation tank at Weheragala, Aralaganwila in Polonnaruwa on Friday.

All those killed in the mishap were residents of the remote hamlet of Wijepura in Dehiattakandiya.

Police and army teams led by Aralaganwila OIC, IP Lalith Rajamanthri and 232 Brigade Commander, Col. Dias, respectively, mounted a massive rescue operation. The tractor had plunged into the tank near the Aluth Oya bridge.

Ten bodies were recovered, police said.

This is a calamity, says OIC Rajamanthri. "It is unbearable that these poor villages had to end up in watery grave".

He said that this ZD irrigation tank, as it is known, is so dangerous that not only people, but even wild elephants had fallen into it. "Three to four days had to be spent to rescue these pachyderms".

The OIC said that on the day of the tragedy the stretch of road was largely deserted because of the New Year holidays.

The victims of this tragedy have been identified as N. M. A. P. Tikiri Menike (28), J. M. Mallika Jayaweera (50) and Kavisha P. Muthunayake (3), mother and son, A. D. Padmasiri (55) and M. P. D. Viranjani Muthunayake, husband and wife, M. P. B. Virangani Muthunayake (55) and Manjula Pradeep (24), Nipun V. Muthunayake (10) Sewvini Hansika Muthunayake (13), a student of Sri Sumangala College, Panadura. (brother and sister) and Kavisha Malshani Premaratne, a student of Prime Minister’s College, Panadura.

Manjula Sanath Muthunayake (30), a pirivena teacher said that the group was visiting relatives for the New Year. When they were about to set off, a wheel of the hand tractor had dislodged. It was suggested that this was a bad omen and the group stay back, but they re-fixed the wheel and proceeded.

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