The Andaman and Nicobar administration on Tuesday refuted reports that appeared in some sections of print and electronic media saying two-hour delay in the response and a blast at 2.45 pm.
“Preliminary enquiry indicates that the boat left Ross Island around 3.30 pm and the incident occurred 15 minutes or so after that. As soon as the Police Control Room and Port Control Tower received information about the boat in danger, rescue vessels were mobilised immediately by the police and DSS and reached the site within 20 minutes,” Rakesh Bali, secretary of Andaman’s Information Publicity & Tourism (IP&T), told Express on Tuesday.
He said that the Port Control Tower also directed neighbouring vessels to rush for rescue. “While there may be lag of a few minutes in this recorded sequence of events, the delay of two hours being cited by some sources is preposterous. The report of blast at 2.45 pm is be erroneous and is an attempt to sensationalise, create mischief and is contrary to preliminary reports. However, the magisterial probe has to report on the sequence of events,” Bali added.
He said that an FIR has been registered under Section 304/34 of the IPC and investigations are being conducted by the A&N Police and three persons have already been arrested.
Meanwhile, a technical team headed by the Chief Port Administrator has already started inspecting each and every private tourist boat to verify their registration and safety compliance. Inspection of 26 boats at Junglighat Jetty has already been completed.
“It may be recalled that the Lt Governor has ordered a detailed safety audit of all boats plying in and around the islands, including those of the inter island and mainland sectors. Detailed safety standard operating procedures are to be formulated and updated and their compliance ensured. The aspect of rescue and emergency response in such situations will also be highlighted and SOPs revised. Insurance of passengers also has to be looked into,” he said.