US tourist drowns in rice paddy: India police

A pond that irrigates nearby padi fields in India. PHOTO: AFP

MUMBAI (AFP) - An American tourist has drowned in a rice paddy in the Indian resort state of Goa, according to reports, with the US consulate saying Thursday (Jan 14) it was working with police on the case.

Caitanya Holt, 30, was being chased by local villagers and police in northern Goa on Tuesday (Jan 12) night when he fell into the field and died after inhaling muddy water, according to the reports.

The American was reportedly being chased by locals because he was suspected of being a thief.

"We are aware of this case," Heidi Hattenbach, a spokesperson for the US consulate in Mumbai, told AFP via email on Thursday (Jan 14).

"Our consular staff has been in contact with the family, and is actively working with Indian government and police officials," she added.

The incident happened in Korgao village, in Pernem, close to the border with the neighbouring state of Maharashtra, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI).

The news agency, citing north Goa superintendent of police Umesh Gaonkar, reported that the locals started chasing the tourist because they suspected him of being a thief.

"We have sent the body for post-mortem. Only after getting the report, we will be able to know the exact cause of his death," PTI quoted Gaonkar as saying in a report late on Wednesday.

Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said police had also been chasing Holt and that he had died after "inhaling sludge".

"What I was told is that he was chased by people and police. He got afraid and started running. He fell in a paddy field and died after inhaling sludge," said Parsekar, according to PTI.

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