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Toll in Andhra boat tragedy rises to 19

IANS | Vijayawada |

The death toll in Sunday’s boat capsize in Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna district rose to 19 as three more bodies were recovered from Krishna river on Monday, police said.

The search was on for two missing persons.

The overloaded boat of a private operator carrying 42 tourists capsized near Ibrahimpatnam Ferry Ghat near here on Sunday evening.

The tourists, majority of them hailing from Ongole town, were coming from Bhavani Island to Pavitra Sangamam, or holy confluence of Krishna and Godavari rivers to witness ‘Maha haarathi’ ritual on the last Sunday of the auspicious month of ‘Karthika’.

Local fishermen and rescue workers saved 21 persons.

Krishna District Collector B. Lakshmikantham said four of them were still undergoing treatment in a hospital.

Deputy Chief Minister N. Chinnarajappa, who rushed to the site along with some other cabinet colleagues on Sunday night, supervised the rescue and relief operations.

Chinnarajappa said 32 members of the Ongole Walkers’ Club were among those on board. He announced Rs 8 lakh compensation each to the families of the deceased.

Overload is believed to be the cause of the accident, he said, adding that the private company also did not have permission to operate the boat.

Survivors said they boarded the private boat as the boats of the Tourism Department were not available. They also complained that there were no life jackets on the boat.

The District Collector said a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder was booked against the company operating the boat.

One of the crew members has been arrested while three others were absconding.

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu will visit the ferry ghat on Monday. He will also call on the injured.