Tour boat tragedy in swollen Godavari
At least eight people drowned and around 25 were missing after a boat carrying them to a tourist spot capsized in the swollen Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday, police said.
The boat was carrying around 60 people, including the nine-member crew. Residents rescued 27 tourists while eight bodies had been retrieved till the evening. A search was continuing.
Two drivers of the boat were among those killed.
Most of the tourists in the boat were from Hyderabad and Warangal in the neighbouring Telangana.
The boat, named Royal Vasishta and owned by a private operator, was on its way to the picturesque Papikondalu tourist spot in the middle of the river when it apparently collided with a large rock formation, sources said.
The accident took place at Kachchuluru in East Godavari district, around 200km from here.
The Godavari river has been in spate for the past few days, and over 5.13 lakh cusecs of water was flowing on Sunday when the mishap occurred.
All boat operations in the river have been prohibited because of the flood but it was not clear whether the licensed vessel had obtained special permission to ferry the tourists.
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. A helicopter has been pressed into service.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy expressed anguish over the tragedy.
“Extremely pained by the capsizing of a boat in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari. My thoughts are with the bereaved families,” Modi tweeted.
Reddy expressed shock over the mishap and announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the deceased.
The chief minister directed East Godavari district collector Muralidhar Reddy to conduct a probe. He also ordered the suspension of all boat services forthwith, official sources said.