Ten confirmed dead, scores missing as overcrowded boat capsizes in India

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ten pilgrims, four of them women were drowned in the Godavari river in India today. This incident occurred when an overcrowded boat capsized in the Andhra Pradesh river, which is the second largest in the country.

A police officer said ten bodies had been discovered as yet, among the 70 people the boat was ferrying. Local people rescued 40 passengers; the remaining twenty are missing. There are four women and four children among the dead.

The mishap occurred near Upputeru in Narsapuram mandal of West Godavari district of the state. This section is located near the mouth of the river. The pilgrims were headed for Lakshmi Narasimha Swami temple (also called Antarvedi temple) in the district, on the other side of the river. Officials stated that the victims, most of whom were from fishermen families from the nearby villages, were headed for the temple for a holy dip, when the incident occurred.

Police sources claimed the boat was carrying in excess of its capacity, thus leading to the incident. Before capsizing, it had allegedly hit an empty boat.

The boat capsized at around 07:00 AM (local time) near Biyyaputeppa village, 190 kilometers from Vijaywada, said A Vani Prasad, the West Godavari District Collector.

Rescue and relief operations have been initiated by the government. Divers commenced the search for the missing people as special rescue boats arrived from Visakhapatnam and Rajhamundry.

Joint collector Ronald Ross was met by the angry relatives of the victims when he arrived at the scene. The former assured that all efforts were being put in the search for those missing.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, K Rosaiah expressed shock and sorrow over the incident. He ordered district minister-in-charge, Vatti Vasant Kumar to go to the scene and monitor relief and rescue work.