RAJAMAHENDRAVARAM: The government on Wednesday confirmed 22 people had died in Tuesday’s boat accident on the Godavari near Manturu and Vadapalli of Devipatnam mandal in East Godavari district. Rescue workers were able to fish out the boat which had sunk 60 feet deep after 18 hours of effort.
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu visited the accident spot and consoled the victims’ families. An ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh per victim has been announced. Naidu said 44 people were travelling in the launch when it capsized due to heavy winds.
Thirty-seven of those onboard were from tribal villages in East Godavari district and seven from West Godavari, seventeen of whom were women. The identities of all except three have been established. Twenty-two of the 44 passengers either swam to safety or were rescued, Naidu claimed. By evening, rescue workers from NDRF, SDRF and the Navy managed to remove 12 bodies from the wreckage which was pulled to the bank using cranes. The boat’s glass panes and doors which had shut tight due to pressure could be pried open only after it was brought ashore.
“Everyone from our villages knows how to swim. It is because the shutters were downed that they were trapped and didn’t get a chance to escape,” P Posamma, who survived the accident said.The Chief Minister has directed the SPs of both East Godavari and West Godavari to conduct a thorough inquiry and find how a motorcycle, three gas cylinders and cement bags were loaded onto the boat.
“We will not spare anyone. Stern action will be taken against those responsible for the tragedy,” he said. The TDP supremo announced Rs 1 lakh as immediate relief for affected families and assured all help to those that lost their breadwinners. “Jobs, houses and education will be provided to the family members of the victims apart from an ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh,” he said.
Describing the deaths as ‘sarkari hatyalu’ (murders by the government), Leader of Opposition YS Jagan Mohan Reddy held Naidu responsible for the incident. “A case should be registered against the Chief Minister and inquiry ordered. The government should pay a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the families of the victims,” he added.
Jana Sena party president Pawan Kalyan condoled the deaths. “The government’s negligence is evident. The boat had no licence it seems. Who is responsible for the deaths? There should be permanent solutions, not temporary measures,” he said.