The Andaman and Nicobar administration on Monday arrested three persons in connection with Sunday’s boat tragedy that killed 21 tourists. Boat manager Shekharan, boat master A Prabhu and lone crew member Narottam were arrested as it emerged that life jackets were available on the private vessel but were not worn by those on board. An FIR under Section 304/34 of the IPC was also filed. The case has been transferred to PS Central Crime Station (CID) for further investigation. “They (arrested trio) will be produced in the Court of CJM, Port Blair on Tuesday,” Chinmoy Biswal, Superintendent of Police of South Andaman told Express.
Condoling the death of the tourists, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced an ex-gratia of `2 lakh to the next of kin of each of the deceased. Lt Governor of A&N, Lt Gen (Retd) A K Singh said a detailed safety audit has been ordered on all boats in and around the islands to prevent such accidents in the future. “Detailed safety Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) will be formulated and strictly ensured,” Singh said. The administration will also undertake a safety audit by a technically competent agency, which will be completed in 30 days. “Insurance of passengers will also be looked into,” Singh said.
A private tourist boat named Aqua Marine had left Ross Island around 3.30 pm on Sunday after which it capsized. As per current information, 21 persons have been declared dead, 28 have been rescued, while one person was still missing. Search operations were on to find Suresh from Tamil Nadu.
“As soon as various control rooms received messages of a boat in danger, rescue vessels were mobilised. The Coast Guard too joined the efforts. Due to the joint efforts, 28 lives could be saved,” said Rakesh Bali, Secretary of Andaman’s Information Publicity and Tourism.
“Preliminary reports suggest that the boat was carrying more passengers than authorised and while life jackets were available on the boat, passengers were not wearing them. Details of lapses will come out in the inquiry,” he added.