Funds raised to send Indian's body back from New Zealand

Wellington: The body of an Indian student who died in Wellington last week after being pulled out from the sea, will be sent back to India with public donations worth N$23,000 (nearly $17,500) having been raised, the Dominion Post reported on Wednesday.

Boobesh Palani, 26, was pulled out from the waters off the suburb of Easterbourne, near the Wellington harbour when his cries were heard from about 50 metres off the coast on March 30.

He was taken to the Hutt Hospital and then transferred to Wellington the next day. It took three days to identify him and his family in India was subsequently contacted. Palani died on April 3.

However, Palani's body got stuck in New Zealand as his family could not afford the NZ$15,000 needed for funeral and transportation costs, as per the report.

Friends and members of the Indian community in Wellington heard of the sad plight of Palani's family and decided set up a fund to help.

Three people of Indian origin - Senthil Kumaran Kathiresan, Rama Ramanathan and Moorthy Sukari - raised NZ$3,800 towards the costs by Monday, but were still well short of their NZ$25,000 target.

But after news of their appeal was published in the media, about NZ$20,000 was raised overnight.

Ramanathan said on Wednesday that the fund had reached NZ$23,000 and enough money was pledged to make them confident of sending Palani's body home at the earliest opportunity.

"It was amazing. I couldn't believe it," Ramanathan said.

"It's a tremendous response. We didn't think we would raise it all this fast. We were thinking we would have to do a sausage sizzle on a couple of weekends or something," he added.

Kathiresan, who was a good friend of Palani, said he could not thank people enough for donating.

He described Palani as a quiet, soft-spoken man who loved cricket. He said the family would do anything to have their boy's body back, but that would probably mean going into debt.

The Indian high commission in Wellington said on Tuesday that it was taking all steps to return Palani's body to India, but certain documents were still needed. Once it had them, it would also offer financial assistance to the family.

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