Tribune News Service
Hyderabad, September 15
At least 13 persons drowned and 40 were missing after an “overloaded” boat capsized near Polavaram (Devipatnam) in the Godavari in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday afternoon.
The boat was carrying 61 persons, including 11 crew members, to the Papikondalu hills, a tourist spot in the vicinity of Kacchuluru village in Devipatnam Mandal of East Godavari district.
The Andhra Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority (APSDMA) said 13 bodies have been retrieved so far. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has mobilised two teams from Vishakhapatnam and Guntur for rescue operations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan 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,” the PM tweeted.
The state government announced an ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and ordered a probe to find out why the boat was allowed to sail despite a ban as the Godavari was flooded with over 5 lakh cusecs of water till yesterday. Meanwhile, all boat services have been suspended in the Godavari.
Initial reports suggested that most of the tourists had access to life jackets, but despite that some may have been swept away due to heavy current. The survivors were mainly the youngsters who managed to swim to the shore.
Two NDRF teams comprising 30 members have been searching for the survivors. The CM has sought help from the Navy and ONGC, which have pressed helicopters in service for search and rescue operations. An expert committee has been asked to prepare a report on the incident.
(With agency inputs)