A day after the tragic tourist boat accident that claimed the lives of 22 people including women and children, Kerala government on Monday announced a judicial probe into the matter and decided to give a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the deceased.
Addressing the media in Malappuram after visiting Tirurangandi Taluk hospital and the Kunnummel family which lost 12 members, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan termed the accident as a “tragedy” and said the government will bear the expense of those under treatment. He announced the probe and the compensation after an all-party meeting at Tanur in which senior opposition leaders also participated. “The all-party meeting has decided for a judicial inquiry in this matter. The probe will cover the technical issues related to the boats’ safety among other matters. A judicial commission comprising technical experts will be formed. A special investigation team (SIT) of the Kerala police will also probe the matter,” Vijayan told the media.
Also read: Boat tragedies that have left Kerala mourning over the past century
#UPDATE | Malappuram boat accident: So far, we have recovered 21 dead bodies. We don’t know the exact number of people on the boat, so we are continuing the search to find out whether there are more victims trapped in the mud or not: Shiju KK, Regional Fire Range Officer https://t.co/sxxQJfxmDu pic.twitter.com/swmIOoQ4Bt
— ANI (@ANI) May 7, 2023
Eight under treatment
He also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the family of the deceased. The CM said the government had earlier set up a safety protocol for tourist boats and will examine whether they were followed or not in connection with the incident. He also informed that two out of the ten admitted in the hospital have been discharged and eight persons were under treatment. The boat had capsized near an estuary close to the Thoovaltheeram beach in the Tanur area around 7:30 pm on Sunday.
Deeply saddened by the tragic loss of lives in the Tanur boat accident in Malappuram. Have directed the District administration to effectively coordinate rescue operations, which are being overseen by Cabinet Ministers. Heartfelt condolences to the grieving families & friends.
— Pinarayi Vijayan (@pinarayivijayan) May 7, 2023
The state government has announced a day of mourning on Monday and cancelled all official events as a mark of respect to those who lost their lives in the accident.
Boat owner at large
According to police, overcrowding could be the reason for the tragedy and the owner of the boat is still absconding. “We will start investigation once the rescue operations are over. The reason could be overcrowding but cannot confirm as of now. The owner of the boat, Nazar, is absconding since the accident took place on Sunday,” said police.
According to media reports, it has been alleged that the boat owner converted a fishing boat for tourist services. The reports also suggest the boat was carrying out services without any safety measures. No life jacket was provided to the passengers.
A team of NDRF scuba divers along with local fishermen are still searching for bodies. Six ministers are already at the spot and are reviewing the situation. Eyewitnesses said the boat was overcrowded and headed to the sea.
All 22 killed identified
A senior district official told PTI that all the 22 people whose bodies have been recovered have been identified. “We have requested the help of all agencies. NDRF and Coast Guard teams have already reached the spot. We have also sought the Navy’s help,” the official told PTI on Monday. The exact number of people in the capsized vessel is yet to be ascertained, the official added. Sources told The Federal that 11 of a family were buried in a single grave in a mosque graveyard.
Also read: Malappuram houseboat accident: Death toll rises to 22; CM reaches site
Modi, Rahul condole deaths
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condoled the deaths and announced an ex-gratia of ₹2 lakh to the next of kin of each victim.
“Pained by the loss of lives due to the boat mishap in Malappuram, Kerala. Condolences to the bereaved families. An ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh from PMNRF (Prime Ministers National Relief Fund) would be provided to the next of kin of each deceased,” Modi was quoted as saying in a tweet by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Pained by the loss of lives due to the boat mishap in Malappuram, Kerala. Condolences to the bereaved families. An ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh from PMNRF would be provided to the next of kin of each deceased: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) May 7, 2023
In a tweet, President Droupadi Murmu called the incident “extremely shocking and saddening” and prayed for the wellbeing of the survivors.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also condoled the loss of lives in the accident. In a tweet, he said, “Distraught by the news of a houseboat capsizing in Malappuram, Kerala. My heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones, and wishes for the speedy recovery of those injured.”
Distraught by the news of a houseboat capsizing in Malappuram, Kerala.
My heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones, and wishes for the speedy recovery of those injured.
I appeal to Congress workers to assist the authorities in rescue operations.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 7, 2023
Emergency meet called
Health Minister Veena George has called an emergency meeting following the accident to assess the situation, the state government said in a statement.
George instructed that expert treatment be ensured for the injured and the post-mortem process sped up so that the bodies can be released quickly to the next of kin, the statement said.
The post-mortems will be conducted at Tirur, Thirurangadi, Perinthalmanna hospitals and Mancheri Medical College by bringing sufficient staff, including doctors, from districts such as Thrissur and Kozhikode, it said.
The minister has issued strict instructions to conduct the post-mortems from 6 am and, if possible, at the private hospitals also where some of the bodies have been kept, according to the statement.
(With Agency inputs)