Elephant saved from drowning in Kerala (Lead, Correcting headline)

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Thrissur (Kerala), Aug 13 (IANS) An elephant had a narrow escape when it was saved from being swept away by temporarily lowering the sluice gates of the Peringalkuthu Dam in flood-ravaged Kerala.

Dam officials, forest rangers and tribals came together to help the animal, caught on a rock near the dam shutters on Chalakudy river that has been overflowing because of heavy rains and vast discharge of water from the dam.

Tribals living near the famed tourist destination at Athirapally were the first to spot the trapped elephant. They alerted Forest Ranger Mohammed Rafi, who told the dam officials around 10 a.m.

“We were asked to reduce the water flow from the dam to enable the elephant to get back to the forest,” said a dam official attached to the Kerala State Electricity Board.

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The shutters of the dam were accordingly lowered to 21 feet from 39 feet.

Very soon, the water level came down. Then the forest officials burst firecrackers to prod the animal to move away.

The frightened elephant then got off the rock as the water around it subsided and walked away into the forest.

“It was perfect team work, else the elephant would have drowned,” said a witness to the rescue operation.

–IANS

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