46 feared dead as tourist ferry overturns in Godavari
Had No Licence Or Approval For Monsoon Trips
Forty-six people were feared dead on Sunday in one of the worst riverine tragedies in the country in recent times when a private ferry carrying tourists to the picturesque Papikonda hills in Andhra Pradesh capsized midstream in the Godavari flowing at the danger mark on Sunday morning.
Twenty-six passengers were rescued from the swollen river by residents of East Godavari district’s Kuchuluru village. Eight bodies had been fished out till evening while 38 were still missing.
There were 72 people, including nine crew members, on board Royal Vashistha which was moving against the current of the river when it overturned. None of the bodies fished out had life jackets on them. The survivors, all wearing safety vests, said the others had taken them off as it was sweltering. This is the worst tragedy in the river since 60 people died when a boat sank in 1964.
Andhra tourism minister Avanti Srinivas claimed the boat, which had no licence, also had no permission to run tourist trips at this time when the river was in spate and that the operators had flouted a clear warning sign at Dhowlaiswaram barrage.
CM Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, who reviewed relief and rescue operations, announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the deceased, while his Telangana counterpart, K Chandrasekhar Rao, announced Rs 5 lakh.
The government ordered suspension of boating operations in the river — they had resumed only on Friday — following the tragedy. Officials were directed to check the licence of all boats in the area and whether their staffers were adequate trained.
FULL COVERAGE: P8
NDRF personnel and villagers rescued 26 passengers of the ferry, eight bodies were fished out while 38 were still missing