12 dead in AP boat mishap, search on for 10 missing

At least 12 people died in the boat capsize in the Godavari in Andhra Pradesh with searches still on for 10 other missing passengers, feared drowned, officials said on May 16.

The State government announced an ex-gratia of ₹10 lakh each to the kin of the victims of the mishap that occurred on May 15 near Manturu village in East Godavari district with bad weather considered a probable cause.

Rescue teams that toiled for hours, to first trace the sunken boat and later to pull it ashore, have so far recovered 12 bodies, including that of two children, officials said. Efforts were still on to trace the other 10, they said.

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who visited the accident spot, said human error was the main reason for the mishap and assured that those guilty would be brought to book. “There was gale yesterday and the boat was also laden with cement bags and two-wheelers. That caused the mishap. We will not spare anyone responsible for the incident,” he said.

Though a warning about the inclement weather was issued at least half an hour in advance, there was no communication system in the boat to receive it, Mr. Naidu said. He also announced government job would be provided to an eligible person each from the families of the victims and a house would also be built for them.

The boat, with about 40 passengers, was on its way to Rajamahendravaram (Rajahmundry) from Devipatnam when the tragedy struck.

The teams from the Navy, state disaster management department and the NDRF personnel were engaged in the rescue operations with the help of Navy helicopter in the Godavari river on Wednesday.

The teams from the Navy, state disaster management department and the NDRF personnel were engaged in the rescue operations with the help of Navy helicopter in the Godavari river on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: S. Rambabu

 

At least 13 persons swam to safety after the boat capsized because of strong winds, West Godavari Superintendent of Police Ravi Prakash said. The boat which got stuck in the sand of the riverbed at a depth of at least 40 feet was pulled ashore on May 16.

Besides the Navy, personnel from the National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force, fire service, revenue and police departments are involved in the search and rescue operations.

The passengers of the boat belonged to Kondamodalu, Kachluru and Talluru villages.

Earlier, the boat was located after an aerial survey by Naval helicopters, carrying expert divers, from the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam. However, with all the doors and windows of boats closed, recovering the bodies trapped inside proved to be cumbersome exercise for the divers. They could initially pull out only two bodies after breaking open the glass windows.

East Godavari district Collector Kartikeya Misra, Superintendent of Police Vishal Gunni and Mr. Prakash, the West Godavari SP, supervised the rescue operations.

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