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'Death trap'

Felix Chaudhary
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A WOMAN died after she slipped and fell into a flooded waterway, a place termed by some people as a "death trap" during inclement weather.

Mohini Lata, 49, may have drowned or sustained serious injury when she went over the flooded waterway commonly referred to by local residents as the "Waiyavi waterfall" in Lautoka about 5pm on Sunday.

According to reports, hundreds of people, including schoolchildren, cross the creek daily to reach their workplaces or schools and back home.

Ms Lata's de facto partner Rajend Kumar said they had been living separately for the past 15 years but met every Sunday as a family.

"I will really miss my Babita," the 57-year-old said.

"Even though we were living apart, we made an agreement to meet every Sunday for the sake of our three children and five grandchildren.

"We had a few drinks together while she cooked and we shared a meal as a family.

"I didn't know that would be the last time we would be together."

Ms Lata, commonly known as Babita, had followed Mr Kumar when he left her home.

It is alleged that while she was washing her flip-flop in the flooded Waiyavi creek, she fell in and may have hit her head on rocks at the bottom of a small waterfall."I heard her call out my name and the next thing I knew she was gone. My son and two other boys managed to get her out of the water, but when they tried to revive her she was not breathing or moving."

Mr Kumar rushed Ms Lata to the Lautoka Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said a post-mortem examination would be conducted to determine the cause of death.

"While it is an unfortunate incident, this is another reminder that tragedy can strike at any given time, particularly during bad weather spells which is why we are always requesting people to be mindful of their safety," she said.

Prolific letters-to-the-editor contributor Narayan Reddy said the most recent incident could have been avoided.

"But what really concerns me is that there are no signs written in vernacular warning people against crossing the creek during periods of heavy rain," he said.

"The creek is deceptively small, but whenever there's a significant amount of rainfall, the current is quite strong and all it takes is one mistake and a life is lost."

Lautoka City Council's chief executive officer Jone Nakauvadra said although the creek fell outside of his jurisdiction, he was concerned that people were being so careless.

"The weatherman and NDMO have been issuing warnings about heavy rain and floods and for people to avoid crossing any waterway during this time," he said.

"Our condolences to Ms Lata's family."

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