Coimbatore, May 26: At least 13 tourists were feared dead after they were washed away in flash floods in the Panchalinga falls near Thirumoorthy dam, about 20 km from Udumalpet in this district, last evening, police said.
Fire service personnel and police officials, engaged in rescue operations, have so far recovered five bodies, including three women and a one-year-old baby. The deceased were identified as Annalakshmi (25), Kalarani (22), Ramadevi (26), Tamaraiselvan (15) and Kisona (1).
Police said there were three different groups of tourists -- six from a family in Coimbatore, eight from Salem and ten from Puducherry -- at the waterfalls. Being a Sunday in the summer season, there was a heavy rush of tourists in the falls, situated 1,000 metres above Thirumoorthy dam.
Sudden floods in the waterfalls washed away a bunch of people bathing there. Heavy rain in the Maraiyur region of Kerala had caused the flash floods, they said.
A large number of policemen and fire and rescue services personnel were engaged in the rescue operation since last night.
Their efforts were hampered by heavy inflow of water.
Superintendent of Police G Karthikeyan and District Collector V Palanikumar were supervising the rescue operations.
The Collector said necessary steps would be taken to prevent such incidents in future as three people had died similarly two months ago.