At least eight people died Sunday afternoon when a tourist boat carrying 61 capsized in the Godavari river near Devipatnam in Andhra Pradesh, the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) said.
The police have said that while 17 people were rescued by the locals, two teams of National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force, with a total of 140 personnel, have been sent to the accident spot for rescue operations. Twenty-five people are presently reported missing.
Quoting initial reports, police earlier said 12 bodies had been retrieved, but the SDMA later put the toll at eight. Though the number of deceased from Telangana was yet to be confirmed, at least 14 people from Warangal district and Hyderabad are missing in the incident, officials said in the state capital.
The boat, belonging to a private operator, was on its way to the picturesque Papikondalu tourist spot in the middle of the river when it met with the accident, apparently on colliding with a large rock formation, at Kachchuluru in East Godavari District, about 200 km from Amaravati, police said.
Andhra Pradesh chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has announced Rs 10 lakh ex-gratia for bereaved families.
Narendra Modi tweeted:
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.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 15, 2019
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy among others also expressed grief over the tragedy.
NDRF, Navy and ONGC helicopters carrying out rescue ops
According to an official statement, Reddy directed National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Navy and ONGC helicopters to carry out the rescue operations on a war-footing. He has also ordered transport minister Ajay to participate in the relief measures and minister Erabelli Dayakar Rao and MLA Aruri Ramesh to rush to the spot, and participate in the cremations and other programmes.
A team of deep divers from the Indian Navy reached the accident spot at Kachhuluru and joined the National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force personnel in the search for the missing passengers.
Out of the 60 passengers, 27 have been rescued and 25 are still missing, the State Disaster Management Authority said quoting a report from the assistant project officer of Integrated Tribal Development Agency at Rampachodavaram near the accident spot.
Of the 27 rescued, 16 were administered first aid at the area hospital in Rampachodavaram and then shifted to the government general hospital in Rajamahendravaram for further treatment and trauma counselling, the authority said.
Bodies of the deceased have been shifted to Rajamahendravaram for post-mortem.
A boat coming in the opposite direction saved the day for many people in Royal Vasishta, as they jumped into the river and got on to the other boat and saved themselves.
Villagers of Tutugunta in the vicinity also came to the rescue of the boat capsize victims and saved at least five tourists from Warangal.
Boating services suspended
District officials have been directed to suspend all the boating services in the region immediately and check for the license of the boats. The chief minister has also asked for a complete report on the incident.
Though the boat has a license, it was not yet clear whether it had the required permission to ferry tourists since all boat operations in the river have been prohibited because of the flood.
River Godavari has been in spate for the past few days and over 5.13 lakh cusecs of floodwater was flowing on Sunday when the mishap occurred.
The chief minister directed the East Godavari district Collector Muralidhar Reddy to conduct a probe into the tragedy. He also directed that all boat operations be suspended forthwith, official sources said.
Most of the tourists in the boat were from Hyderabad and Warangal in neighbouring Telangana.
Five tourists from Warangal were among the 17 passengers saved by villagers of Tutugunta, police said.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Sep 15, 2019 22:57:19 IST