12 killed in Andhra's Godavari boat accident

8 dead, many missing as boat carrying tourists capsizes in Andhra river
Police personnel on a rescue boat sail towards the site when a tourist boat capsized in the swollen Godavari river in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, Sunday afternoon. PTI

In a tragic accident, a boat with over 60 tourists capsized in Andhra Pradesh's Godavari river on Sunday killing at least 12 persons.

Locals rescued 27 people while search was on for others.

The boat 'Royal Vasishta' was on its way to the picturesque Papikondalu tourist spot in the middle of the river when it met with the accident, apparently on colliding with a large rock formation, at Kachchuluru in East Godavari District, about 200 km from here. Rescue workers pulled out 10 bodies.

The boat was carrying 63 tourists and nine crew members.

Of the 27 rescued, 16 were administered first-aid at the area hospital in Rampachodavaram and then shifted to the government general hospital in Rajamahendravaram for further treatment and trauma counselling, the authorities said.

Bodies of the deceased have been shifted to Rajamahendravaram for post-mortem.

There were similar accidents at the same spot some years ago in which several people were killed.

A majority of those on the boat operated by a private operator were from Telangana. Officials said 22 of the tourists from Hyderabad and 14 from Warangal.

The boat was operated despite floods and in violation of safety guidelines of the Tourism Department. The river has been in spate for the past few days and over 5.13 lakh cusecs of floodwater was flowing on Sunday when the mishap occurred.

Though the boat has license, it was not yet clear whether it had the required permission to ferry tourists since all boat operations in the river have been prohibited because of the flood.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S Jagan Mohan Reddy expressed his shock over the tragedy. He directed the officials to carry out rescue operations on a war-footing.

He asked them to use National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, besides pressing into service Navy and ONGC helicopters in the rescue operations.

Two Navy helicopters from Indian Naval Station Dega will join the search operation to trace those missing in a boat accident in Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh which claimed eight lives, the Navy said on Sunday.

The Chief Minister also ordered all the available ministers in the district to rush to the scene and supervise the rescue work.

He directed the officials to suspend all boating services immediately in the region.

Jagan Mohan Reddy announced ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh each for the families of the dead.

As reports suggest that boat was being operated without a license, Reddy asked officials to check for the licence of the boats and if adequate training was given to the staff or not.

The Chief Minister sought a complete report on the incident and directed framing of safety guidelines by an experts committee.

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao also expressed his grief over the tragedy. Since there were people from Telangana among those dead, he instructed officials concerned to take the necessary action.

He also announced Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia for the kin of those dead.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy among others expressed grief over the tragedy.

"Extremely pained by the capsizing of a boat in Andhra Pradesh's East Godavari. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. Rescue operations are currently underway at the site of the tragedy," he said in a tweet.

Modi posted another tweet in Telugu, calling the incident "traumatic".

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi expressed grief over the loss of 12 lives and hoped that those missing are safe.

"I'm sorry to hear about the boat accident in the Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh. My deepest condolences to the families of those who have perished in this tragedy. I pray that all those reported missing will soon be accounted for and that they are safe," he said on Twitter.

(With inputs from PTI and IANS)