Chopper pressed into rescue as boat capsizes in Godavari, kills 12

NDRF and navy personnel carry out a rescue operation after a tourist boat capsized in the swollen Godavari river in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. Photo: PTI.

A boat carrying 61 people capsized in the Godavari river near East Godavari district’s Devipatnam on Sunday (September 15), resulting in the death of 12 people. While 23 people have been rescued so far, a search operation is underway for the rest.

In the latest update, news agency PTI said quoting the police that 12 people have lost their lives in the mishap.

There were 50 passengers and 11 staff on the boat run by Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation. The boat started off for the picturesque Papikondalu hills, a prime tourist destination, from Gandi Pochamma Temple near Devipatnam, news agency PTI reported quoting sources.

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It met with the accident, apparently on colliding with a large rock formation, at Kachchuluru, about 200 km from Amaravati, they said.

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Meanwhile, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has ordered an enquiry into the matter and announced an ex-gratia of ₹10 lakh to the families of the deceased. He has directed officials to temporarily suspend the boat services and also ordered all his available ministers to supervise rescue works.

The river has been in spate for the past few days and over 5.13 lakh cusecs of floodwater was flowing on Sunday afternoon when the mishap occurred, reports said.

Two drivers of the boat named Royal Vasishta were among those killed. Most of the tourists in the boat were from Hyderabad and Warangal in neighbouring Telangana. Five of the tourists from Warangal were among the 17 passengers saved by villagers of Tutugunta, police said.

On state Chief Secretary LV Subrahmanyam’s directions a special helicopter has been pressed into service from Rajamahendravaram for the rescue operation.

Meanwhile, state Home Minister M Sucharita said that action would be taken against the officials who had given permission for the boat.

Police and two National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, each comprising 30 members, have been deployed for rescue operations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also expressed anguish over the incident. “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,” the Prime Minister said.

In May 2018, a boat capsize had led to the death of 12 people, including two children in the Godavari river in East Godavari district. At least 40 people were on board the boat, of which 20 were of a marriage party.

(With inputs from agencies)

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