Dubai: A newly married Indian expat in Dubai and his wife were among the victims of a forest fire that killed a group of trekkers in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, it has emerged.
Vivek Natarajan and wife Divya, both in their late twenties, had just celebrated 100 days of their marriage after a long courtship. They died of severe burns one day apart, his colleagues told Gulf News on Tuesday.
Vivek, who went home for his first vacation after his wedding on November 24 last year, was among the nine trekkers who died in the Theni forest fire on Monday.
The death toll rose to 11 by Tuesday with Divya and another trekker also succumbing to injuries.
Hailing from Erode district, the couple and their friend, who also perished in the fire, had gone for trekking along with two other groups.
The three groups had 39 people in total including women and girls who were celebrating International Women’s Day, Indian media reported.
For Vivek and Divya, it was a special trip they had planned to go after they celebrated the 100 days of marriage on March 3.
“They had made the plans for this even before he went home,” said Vivek’s colleague Hariharan Edamula.
Vivek, an electronics engineer, and his childhood friend Divya, an assistant lecturer in a college back home, had been in love for several years and had to wait for long for their families to agree to their wedding, said another colleague.
“By the time they got the families’ consent, he had just joined this company. So they postponed the wedding for almost a year and finally got married in November,” said Karthik Adikesavalu.
The colleagues said they watched the heartbreaking news of the tragedy on television channels and social media.
“We saw visuals of rescue workers talking to Vivek. His body was almost completely burnt. But he was still conscious. He told them his name …. asked for water and said the pain was unbearable for him. It was heartbreaking to watch his final moments,” said Hari.
Karthik, who shared a flat with Vivek and two other colleagues, said the friends had been struggling to come to terms with the tragedy even as they sought answers to the safety lapses.
“He was very happy and excited about bringing his wife here. He had got his driving licence and bought a car after marriage. He also arranged a flat in Al Ghusais before going home. They were supposed to come back on April 1 and begin a new life here.”
Colleagues remembered Vivek as a smart professional who had worked with several prominent companies in Dubai as a service engineer of Gulf Commercial Group which is specialised in office imaging solutions.
They said Vivek was part of the team that managed printing and photocopying services at the World Government Summit in February. He was a resident engineer at the Emirates Islamic Bank’s head office in Dubai Healthcare City.