Andhra Pradesh: Atleast 35 tribals feared dead as boat capsizes in Godavari river

Rajamahendravaram (Andhra Pradesh): At least 35 people, all tribals, are feared to have been trapped in a boat (launch) that capsized in river Godavari on Tuesday evening.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams and Navy helicopter from the Eastern Naval Command (ENC) fitted with a sonar equipment has located the ill-fated boat at around 60 feet under the water stuck in the sand near Vadapalli village. The rescuers are trying to break the boat to bring out those trapped.

The NDRF teams brought the boat to the shore with the help of a huge crane at around 2pm. The staff retrieved three bodies, including two tiny twins Ramudu and Lakshmanudu and a woman.

Rescue operations are underway. The staff is trying to bring the damaged bodies out of the boat by cutting the doors. Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu arrived at Vadapalli and is monitoring the retrieval operation. A pal of gloom descended on Vadapalli, where relatives and kin of the trapped were inconsolable.

District collector Kartikeya Mishra, who is supervising the operation at Vadapalli, said all possible means are adopted to bring the boat out. Navy helicopter from Visakhapatnam naval base has been searching for the missing people. Over 20 boats are on the mission.

It may be mentioned that the boat capsized on Tuesday evening. Boat operator Khaja surrendered before the Devipatnam police. He is among the 16 people who managed to swim to safety. It is said that due to inclement weather, the boat sank.

There is no exact number of passengers onboard when the tragedy occurred. Collector Kartikeya and district Superintendent of police Vishal Gunni say 16 people reached the shore safely and another 15 are feared trapped in the boat. However, those who swam to safety say there were between 50 and 55 passengers from four villages. One of the passengers said the crew members closed all doors and windows to ensure some cement bags stored inside would not get wet. However, officials say the information is still unconfirmed. Passengers point out that rescuing self was not possible even if life jackets were given, as all were stuck inside the closed boat.

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Boat carrying 20 passengers capsizes in Godavari, 10 feared dead

"When the boat was tilting heavily in the gusty winds, we urged the driver to take a U-turn and wait for some time but, he didn’t listen,” another rescued passenger said.

Enumeration of the victims has become difficult as information reaching the tribal villages takes time. Those who knew about the boat mishap have come to the spot enquiring about their beloved family members. "We are preparing the list of missing persons," the collector said.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu reviewed the situation with senior officials on Wednesday morning. With the rescue operations turning to salvage operations, the CM directed the officials to arrange for post-mortem on the spot. He assured the bereaved families all support from the government.

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