At least 18 people, including women and children, were killed when a houseboat with more than 30 passengers on board overturned and sank near the Tuvalthiram beach in the Tanur area of this Kerala district on Sunday (May 7), the state government said.
PK Kunhalikutty, an MLA of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), said that the toll is expected to go up as rescue operations continue.
“It is a very tragic and unfortunate incident,” Kunhalikutty, a former minister, said.
Speaking to reporters from a government hospital near Tanur in Malappuram district, he said overcrowding is believed to have been the reason behind the vessel capsizing. Boats are not supposed to go out for rides after 6 pm but it is believed that the rule was violated in this case, he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condoled the deaths and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of each victim.
Sports Minister V Abdurahiman, who is coordinating the rescue operations along with Tourism Minister PA Mohamed Riyas, also confirmed that 16 people died on the basis of information from various hospitals where those rescued from the water and inside the boat were admitted.
Abdurahiman said many of those who died were women and children who had come for a ride amid the ongoing school vacations. “More victims are believed to be trapped under the boat and have to be brought out. The boat had overturned. The reason for it is not yet known. The police will investigate it,” he told PTI.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan issued a statement condoling the deaths and directed the district collector to carry out a coordinated emergency rescue operation. Fire and police units, officials from the Revenue and Health departments and local residents from Tanur and Tirur were involved in the rescue operation, the statement said.
“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,” Vijayan posted on Twitter.
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 Chief Minister’s Office also said that Vijayan will visit the site on Monday.
According to the statement, Monday has been declared a day of official mourning and all government programmes stand postponed as a mark of respect to the victims.
Condoling the loss of lives, Modi announced an ex-gratia of Rs 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
According to the police, the incident occurred around 7 pm. Those fished out of the water were admitted to nearby private and government hospitals, they said.
The exact cause of the accident is not known at present, the police said.
#WATCH | Kerala: So far 18 people are dead after a tourist boat capsized near Tanur in Malappuram district of Kerala. Rescue operations are underway. https://t.co/bj89L2szyW pic.twitter.com/wnksxB3WGf
— ANI (@ANI) May 7, 2023
VIDEO | Several people killed after a houseboat capsizes in Malappuram, Kerala. More details are awaited. pic.twitter.com/QFuZTAPHPf
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) May 7, 2023
(With agency inputs)