New Delhi: An overloaded boat carrying 38 people capsized in the Krishna river near Vijayawada on Sunday evening, resulting in the death of 16 tourists while seven others are missing, the police said.
The ill-fated boat was being operated by a private company and was said to be on a trial run.
The NDRF personnel have rescued 20 people alive and recovered 11 bodies so far. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams and Krishna district authorities have launched a massive search and rescue operation to trace the missing people. Two teams each comprising 30 NDRF personnel, a 45-member team of the State Disaster Rescue Force (SDRF) and 60 members of the Disaster Response and Fire Services Department have been roped into the rescue operation.
The death toll may rise, police said, adding that the boat was overloaded because of which it overturned, leading to the tragedy.
The unfortunate incident occurred at the confluence of Krishna and Godavari rivers. The passengers were going from the Bhavani Island to Pavitra Sangamam to witness Pavitra Harati, a daily ritual attracting thousands of tourists.
NDRF teams and Krishna district authorities launched a massive search and rescue operation to trace the missing people. (Photo courtesy: NDRF)
“The boat was overloaded with 38 people and most of them were not provided life jackets. It capsized near a curve as it approached the Pavitra Sangamam point and most of the people were trapped underneath and were killed,” an Assistant Commissioner of Police said.
Most of the passengers were said to be members of the Ongole Walkers Club in Prakasam district while some were from Nellore who were on a visit to Vijayawada.
Tourism Minister Bhuma Akhila Priya ordered an inquiry into the incident and directed her department officials to ascertain whether the boat operator had requisite permissions. The incident occurred when the boat set off for Pavitra Sangamam at Ferry village near Vijayawada from Bhavani Island, the police said.
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Deputy Chief Minister (Home) N China Rajappa, Opposition leader Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, state BJP president K Hari Babu and others expressed grief over the incident.
China Rajappa, who was supervising rescue operations at the accident spot, announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of the deceased.
Pradesh Congress Committee president N Raghuveera Reddy visited the accident spot and later the hospital. One of the deceased was identified as Prabhakar Reddy, a former president of the BJP Prakasam district unit.
(With PTI inputs)