'Extremely fit' dad spending retirement in India drowned after falling into river during yoga

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Iain Francis died while doing his daily yoga routine. (SWNS)
Iain Francis died while doing his daily yoga routine. (Reach)

A British father of three who had retired to India died after falling into a river during his daily yoga ritual, an inquest has heard.

Iain Francis, of Moretonhampstead, is believed to have hit his head during the fall on 26 March 2019, and is likely to have been unconscious by the time he entered yeathe water.

An inquest at Exeter’s County Hall 25 January, heard Ian's family had endured a long wait for more information surrounding his death from the Foreign Commonwealth Office and Indian police authorities due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 68-year-old, who had no known medical conditions, was described by his daughter Angela as having been 'extremely' healthy and fit for his age and did yoga every day to help ease pain in his hips, knees and sometimes also his feet.

In a statement, she recalled: "He went to India in October 2018 to enjoy this retirement warmer climate where he could stretch and climatise. He intended indeed to come back in the spring."

Francis had previously been a plumber for many years but also had an extensive career working in microfinance as a financial consultant in foreign agricultural programmes.

He worked in 13 countries including Nigeria, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

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HAMPI, KARNATAKA, INDIA - 2013/12/06: Sunset over Tungabhadra river, which flows past the ruins of the former Vijayanagara Empire, which was established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I of Sangama Dynasty and lasted until 1646. (Photo by Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The Tungabhadra river. (Getty)

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After retiring he travelled to India on his own and had been staying in the district of Koppal in Karnataka.

The location of his death was Hanumanahalli Thungabhandra River Gangavathi.

Angela said: "He was a strong swimmer, although he did not attempt to go in the water much or for long periods in later years."

The manager of the hotel where Francis was staying told police in India that every day he would do yoga and body exercises at a riverbank near the hotel.

On the day of his death, he left the hotel at 2.30pm and at 3pm the hotel manager was informed he had fallen in the river.

He recalled he had gone to the river and saw Francis floating in the water wearing shorts, and his belongings were on the bank of the river.

The police investigation confirmed Francis had accidentally fallen down into the river and had hit his head on a rock on his way into the water.

The conclusion was he had died by accidental drowning and there was no third party involvement.

A post-mortem examination conducted in India confirmed the cause of Francis's death was drowning. It was noted that there were lacerations to his scalp and a deep injury on the left side of the top of his head.

Recording a narrative conclusion, coroner Philip Spinney said: “The deceased died from the effects of drowning.”

Following the inquest, his daughters paid tribute to Francis and said: "Our dad was wonderfully caring, funny, sensitive and generous.

"He had a spirit, heart and presence like no one else and he will always be dearly missed."

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