34 Killed in AP Boat Tragedy; Panel to Probe No of Passengers

According to SDMA, the ill-fated private boat was carrying 73 passengers, including eight crew.

Updated19 Sep 2019, 10:10 PM IST
4 min read

Six more bodies of those killed in the boat accident in river Godavari in Andhra Pradesh were retrieved on Wednesday, 18 September taking the toll to 34, with 13 more people still reported missing. While, the state government has set up a panel to confirm the number of passengers that occupied the boat.

The SDMA said that post-mortem had been completed on all 34 bodies and they were handed over to the relatives.

According to SDMA, the ill-fated private boat was carrying 73 passengers, including eight crew.

State Director General of Police Gautam Sawang conducted an aerial survey of the boat capsize area at Kachhuluru on Tuesday afternoon and later visited the victims undergoing treatment in the government hospital at Rajamahendravaram.

According to the police, taking out the boat that sank over 315 feet deep in the river is proving to be a Herculean task. Teams of expert divers of the Navy and NDRF continued the search for the bodies. The search teams found the bodies floating far away from the accident spot at Kachhuluru in East Godavari district.

Identity of some of the deceased was yet to be established, police said. The bodies have been shifted to the government hospital in Rajamahendravaram.

Panel to Probe the Exact Number of Passengers

Five days after the boat mishap in river Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, confusion broke out on Thursday, 19 September over the roll and exact number of passengers on board before it capsized as the government constituted a six-member high-level inquiry committee look into the tragedy.

On Wednesday, the Chief Ministers Office had released a note from the State Emergency Operations Centre putting the total number of passengers in the boat at 73, including eight crew, and the toll at 34 with 13 more people missing.

However, a government order (GO) issued by Chief Secretary LV Subrahmanyam on Thursday night said the boat carried 76 people, including eight crew members, and put the toll at 28.

The Chief Secretary’s order said the toll might increase.

The committee, to be headed by Special Chief Secretary (Irrigation), has also been asked to suggest measures to operate control rooms at all ferry points, guidelines for movement (of boats) in pre-flood and during floods and steps to ensure such incidents did not recur.

Search Operations Underway

The extensive search operations being carried out by Indian Navy, NDRF, SDRF and state authorities, were hampered due to heavy rains on Monday.

The gates of Dowleswaram barrage have been closed down and a search was underway there as well, ANI reported.

According to the report, a Navy UH 3H helicopter carried out multiple searches from the site of the accident at Devipatnam to Polavaram.

CM Jagan Reddy Announces Ex-Gratia

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy ordered immediate suspension of licences of all boats operating in the Godavari River and has ordered an inquiry into the matter.

He also announced Rs 10 lakhs ex-gratia each to the families of the deceased.

Most of the tourists were from Hyderabad and Warrangal in neighbouring Telangana and state chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao also announced an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh each to the bereaved families from his state and deputed ministers to coordinate in the relief works and help the injured.

The river has been tempestuous for the past few days and over 5.13 lakh cusecs of floodwater was flowing on Sunday afternoon, when the mishap occurred.

‘Boat Didn’t Have Permission From Tourism Department’

While speaking to the media, Tourism Minister Muthamsetty Srinivasa Rao said that the boat, Royal Vashishta, didn’t have the permission from the Tourism Department but had permission from the Kakinada port authorities.

The News Minute quoted one survivor as saying:

“The boat started tilting to one side and overturned. Some of us started jumping off the boat. Some of us went one the top of toppled boat. It again started tilting. We held on to whatever we could. Meanwhile one other boat came. Otherwise it would have been difficult. I am from Warangal. 14 of us came together. Only 5 are here now.”

The boat started off for the picturesque Papikondalu, a prime tourist destination, from Gandi Pochamma Temple near Devipatnam and it capsized near Kachhuluru, sources said.

State Chief Secretary LV Subrahmanyam spoke to East Godavari District Collector Muralidhar Reddy and enquired about the incident. The Chief Secretary directed that a helicopter be put to service and trace the victims of the boat mishap.

Political Leaders Express Grief After Mishap

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to express grief over the mishap and said, “Extremely pained by the capsizing of a boat in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. Rescue operations are currently underway at the site of the tragedy.”

Home Minister Amit Shah took to Twitter as well and said, “The loss of lives due to capsizing of a boat in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh is very unfortunate. I am deeply pained.”

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress President Rahul Gandhi expressed their condolences as well.

(With inputs from PTI, ANI and The News Minute)

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Published: 15 Sep 2019, 10:15 AM IST
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