The death toll in the Andhra Pradesh boat tragedy swelled to 12 as rescue workers recovered four bodies from the Godavari river on Monday. The search is on for other tourists who went missing after a boat capsized in East Godavari district on Sunday, officials said.
Extensive search operations are being carried out by Indian Navy, NDRF, SDRF and state authorities.
According to the sources, while bodies of eight passengers were recovered from the river till Sunday night, another four were retrieved at the accident spot at Kachhuluru in East Godavari district on Monday morning.
The bodies recovered include that of an infant. Officials said that about 25 persons are still missing.
As many as 27 people survived the tragedy and were rescued by villagers of Tutugunta. The survivors were taken to the area hospital in Rampachodavaram and government general hospital in Rajamahendravaram for treatment.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy undertook an aerial survey of the accident spot. Earlier, Reddy has ordered an enquiry into the matter. On Sunday, he announced a compensation of 10 lakh each for the families of deceased.
While, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao also announced financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh each to the victims from Telangana.
Two helicopters and deep divers of the Indian Navy, in addition to a chopper of the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC), were taking part in rescue and search operations, which resumed Monday morning.
On Sunday, there were around 61 people mostly tourists , nine crew members and three singers on a private boat.The boat started off for the picturesque Papikondalu, a prime tourist destination, from Gandi Pochamma Temple near Devipatnam and it capsized near Kachhuluru.
The gates of Dowleswaram barrage have been shut down so as the bodies, believed to have been washed away could be stopped.
Andhra Pradesh State Disaster Response and Fire Services Director General AR Anuradha said the rescue workers were moving downstream. “The concentration is now on getting the boat up,” she said, but admitted that it is a tough task as the boat is believed to be stuck very deep.
Authorities fear that the capsized boat might be having some bodies under it. The private boat was allegedly being operated without permission and survivors alleged that negligence by the driver led to the tragedy.
Authorities had stopped boat services in the river for the last two months due to heavy inflows from upstream. The boat was operated despite five lakh cusecs of water flowing from upstream.
The driver was apparently not familiar with the topography as he steered the boat into an area considered dangerous due to depth of the river. Strong water currents and winds blowing at a speed of 90 km per hour are believed to have caused the disaster.
According to the survivors, the driver and the crew appeared untrained to deal with the emergency. “I jumped into the river after I saw the driver jumping into it,” said a survivor wearing a life-jacket who was among those rescued by locals.
However, both the driver and his assistant lost their lives.
As many as 36 tourists were from Telangana, including 22 from Hyderabad.