Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service
Hyderabad, September 15
Thirteen people were killed and several reported missing after an overloaded boat capsized close to Polavaram (Devipatnam) in Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday.
The boat was carrying more than 60 people.
The chief minister YS Jagan Reddy was personally monitoring the situation and has asked the Andhra Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority (APSDMA) to leave no effort to ensure maximum people were rescued.
The APSDMA confirmed that 13 bodies had been recovered and there were still people missing. The accident occurred when the boat carrying, mainly tourists, had gone to the Papikondalu hills near the Godavari river in the vicinity of Kacchuluru village in Devipatnam Mandal of the East Godavari district.
Rescue officials said about 40 of the 61 people on the ill-fated boat were still missing. Some 50 were tourists, while the remaining 11 were boat staff.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has mobilised two teams from Vishakhapatnam and Guntur. Initial reports suggested that most of the tourists had access to life jackets, but despite that some people may have been swept away due to heavy current. The survivors were mainly the younger people who managed to swim to the shore.
Government has announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and at the same time ordered an inquiry to find out how the boat had been allowed to sail despite a ban since the Godavari river was flooded with over 5 lakh cusecs of water till yesterday.
Around 30 personnel in two teams of the NDRF were searching for survivors till evening, while the chief minister has requested help from the Navy and ONGC, who have pressed their helicopters for the search of survivors. All boat services have been suspended in the Godavari.
All the Cabinet ministers available in the area have been asked to rush to the spot and help in providing quick clearances to maximise the rescue efforts. An expert committee has been asked to prepare a detailed report about the incident and the state of the capsized boat.
With tourists and many people from Telangana aboard the ill-fated boat, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has expressed shock and conveyed his deep sympathies to the members of the bereaved families.
Since there were people from Telangana among those dead, the CM has instructed officials concerned to take the necessary action.
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