Student killed by falling tree

An 18-year-old college student lost his life on Sunday after a eucalyptus tree fell on him when he was passing by, near Fingerpost.

The deceased has been identified as C. Iman Augustine (18), a resident of the Housing Unit at Fingerpost in Udhagamandalam. Police said that Iman Augustine, along with his younger brother Vivin and mother Roshini, was heading to church on Sunday morning, when the tree along the road got uprooted. Roshini and Vivin managed to dart away. However, Iman Augustine was slow to react, and sustained severe head injuries when the tree fell on him.

Following the incident, traffic came to a halt along the Udhagamandalam-Gudalur Road for more than an hour, as police and Highway Department officials worked together to retrieve Iman Augustine’s body from under the tree, before cutting down two other trees along the road that were also deemed to be in danger of falling.

Superintendent of Police, The Nilgiris, D. Shanmuga Priya, rushed to the spot and held discussions with National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials over steps that needed to be taken to prevent such incidents in the future.

This is the third death resulting from tree fall in the district over an eight-day period.

The deaths have prompted calls from activists to remove exotic tree species that line the major roads in the district, especially those located along the Udhagamandalam – Gudalur Road.

Invasive species

G. Janardhanan, president of the Ooty Public Awareness Association, said that unlike native tree species, which can cope with adverse weather, including heavy wind and rain, invasive species such as pine, wattle, eucalyptus and silver oak, which were introduced to the Nilgiris by the British, were incapable of withstanding monsoon in the Nilgiris.

“Every year, not only are people at risk of being injured or killed by these trees, but they also cause a lot of damage to power lines and roads, so the highways department and the forest department need to work together to fell these trees,” he said.

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