RAJAMAHENDRAVARAM: Around 30 people are feared drowned in a boat accident in the Godavari near Manturu of East Godavari district. The launch ferrying 40 tribals from Devipatnam to Kondamodalu capsized around 5 pm on Tuesday even as heavy winds lashed the region.
Around 10 people, including four crew members, swam to the shore and alerted officials about the accident, after which two 35-member-strong NDRF teams and 90 SDRF personnel were pressed into service for search and rescue operations. Thirty SDRF workers from Visakhapatnam are on their way to the accident spot.
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu consoled the families of the victims and directed East and West Godavari Collectors and SPs to engage experienced divers in the rescue operation. Medical camps have been set up at Devipatnam to provide immediate aid to survivors.Those who swam across said the waters were rough and they only somehow managed to stay afloat. The driver and owner of Lakshmi Venkateswara Boat Service Khaja Mohiddin of Devipatnam surrendered before the police after swimming to the shore.
Officials said all the passengers on the boat were tribals from Kondmodalu, Kachluru and Taluru villages in East Godavari district. East Godavari Collector Karthikeya Mishra and other officials rushed to the spot to supervise rescue operations. Rajamahendravaram SP B Rajakumari said according to the preliminary data she had received, 25 people were onboard at the time of the accident and 10 had survived.
Just four days ago, 120 people had a narrow escape when the boat they were travelling in caught fire near Papikondalu, not far from the spot the boat capsized on Tuesday.“I think around 55 people were in the boat when it capsized. Some of us requested that the boat be stopped at Mulapadu, a stop before Mantur, when we noticed that the weather was rough, but the driver chose to go ahead,” a survivor said.
A passenger who survived the ordeal said the shutters of the lower deck of the boat were closed as it was raining. “We had to kick the shutter open and swim out. I am lucky to be alive,” she said.“When the boat was near Mantur, we could feel it veering to a side. A local swam to the boat and saved a girl,” an eyewitness said.
According to a press communique from the AP Disaster Management Authority, rescue operations are going on in full swing. Five ambulances have been kept on standby to extend medical aid.