Private boats to Bhavani Island allegedly do not have sufficient number of life jackets and carry more passengers than their sanctioned capacity.
INDIA Updated: Nov 13, 2017 07:12 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
tan Times, New Delhi
At least 16 people, including nine women, died and seven were missing after an overloaded boat with 41 people on board capsized in the Krishna river near Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday.
According to Vijayawada police, the motor boat with a three-man crew was ferrying 38 passengers from Bhavani Island to Pavitra Sangamam near Ibrahimpatnam on the outskirts of Vijayawada for a religious ceremony on Karthika Masam. Of them, 32 belonged to a walkers’ association from Ongole in Prakasam district and six from Nellore.
“So far, 16 bodies have been recovered from river. All of them belonged to Ongole Walkers’ Club. We are in the process of identifying the victims. Rescue operations are on to know the whereabouts of missing persons,” deputy chief minister N Chinna Rajappa, who holds home portfolio, told reporters late evening.
“According to preliminary investigation, the private agency which was operating the boat did not have a licence from the tourism department,” he said.
Rajappa also announced an ex gratia of Rs 8 lakh to each of the families of the deceased. “If they had taken the insurance under Chandranna Bima Scheme, an additional amount of Rs 2 lakh would be paid to each family,” he said.
The boat overturned as it was nearing the ferry point at around 5:45 pm. Swimmers and local fishermen rescued 15 passengers as the boat capsized. Another three passengers were rescued by the teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) late in the night. Efforts were on to find the remaining seven passengers, the police said, adding that none of the passengers was wearing life jacket.
The boat’s carrying capacity is 24 people. Some of the survivors complained that the police that the boat was shaking right from moment it started from Bhavani Island. “As it was nearing the ferry point, it came to a sudden halt as a result of which passengers fell towards one side of the boat and it overturned within seconds,” a survivor told the local media persons.
The tourism department of Andhra Pradesh had given permission for private agencies to operate boats to Bhavani Island regularly. However, locals allege that many boats do not have sufficient number of life jackets and carry more passengers than their sanctioned capacity.
Tourism minister Bhuma Akhila Priya ordered an inquiry into the incident and directed her department officials to ascertain whether the boat operator had requisite permissions.
Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu expressed shock over the incident and directed the authorities to intensify rescue operations. A helpline with toll free number 18004250101 was opened to help the relatives of the victims to get the information.
Director general of police N Sambasiva Rao, Krishna district collector Lakshmi Kantham and the other senior officials of the district administration are personally supervising the rescue operations