Army to the rescue as entangled, beached whale is freed off Sri Lanka


Soldiers and villagers work to free stranded whale. Photo: Sri Lanka Army

A 70-foot whale is free off Sri Lanka after an eight-hour rescue effort spearheaded by an army special forces unit.

The whale had become trapped in a fishing net near the village of Kokilai, and was pushed ashore in heavy seas. Villagers using ropes were not able to budge the leviathan so a plea for help was delivered to the Army Security Force Headquarters-Mullaittivu.


Heavy machinery is used to push the whale to deeper water. Photo: Sri Lanka Army

On Tuesday, the army issued a news release that described the scene:

"The giant whale, having got entangled in a fishermen's net that had been laid in the mid seas had been reportedly trying hard to escape back into the seas, but rough sea waves as well as inclement weather patterns, worsened its escape attempts despite different techniques applied by those who gathered there.

"On hearing the incident, District Secretary for Mullaittivu, Divisional Secretary, officials of the Disaster Management Centre, Major General P.U.S. Vithanage, Commander, SFHQ-MLT, senior Police officers and a few other officials rushed to the scene with the intention of saving its life."


Whale rescue effort lasted eight hours. Photo: Sri Lanka Army


Whale swims off after reaching deeper water. Photo: Sri Lanka Army

Soldiers cut away the netting as backhoes fitted with cables pulled the whale into deeper water, where it eventually swam away.

The type of whale and its apparent condition after the ordeal were not mentioned in the news release.

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