RAJAMAHENDRAVARAM : The relatives of passengers aboard the ill-fated Royal Vasishta, which capsized in Godavari a couple of days back, were in for a rude shock when they found the body of a male victim that was retrieved from the river was in a highly decomposed state, prompting them to stage a protest at the government hospital here on Wednesday alleging negligence of the hospital staff in preserving the bodies. They even confronted the ministers who came to pacify them and finally relented only after the ministers instructed the hospital authorities to take proper care in preserving the bodies.
Two families -- one from Hyderabad and another from Visakhapatnam -- were staying in the city from Tuesday with a hope that they would at least have the last glimpse of their missing family members.
The family of Ankem Janakiramaiah from Hyderabad was anxiously waiting for the whereabouts of their missing family member Pavan Kumar. The family of Madhupada Ramana Babu from Visakhapatnam was also anxious to get information about their missing family members.
Amid tense moments, the families on Wednesday found that one of the retrieved bodies was in a highly decomposed state and the hospital authorities had failed to preserve it properly. The clothes, as well as the skin on the body, got peeled off making it impossible to identify the deceased. Pavan Kumar’s relatives protested against the ‘indifference’ of hospital authorities in preserving the bodies.
“The bodies are in a highly decomposed state and maggots are preying on them. When we questioned the doctors, they said it is common as the bodies are removed from the water. When the freezer in the mortuary is empty, why can’t they preserve the body in it?’’ questioned Prasad, kin of a victim. Police had a tough time in controlling the agitated relatives.
“We will also end life here itself then only the hospital authorities will understand our pain,’’ he threatened.
When ITDA Project Officer Nishant Kumar arrived at the hospital, the family members once again raised their voice. Later, ministers P Vishwaroop and K Kanna Babu reached the hospital and they too were confronted by the agitated family members.
When the ministers called District Coordinator of Hospital Services Ramesh Kishore, he told them that the body was kept outside as some of the other family members of victims were coming to identify the deceased. They directed him to preserve the body properly. As the body was in a highly decomposed state, the authorities are now planning to conduct a DNA test to establish the identity of the deceased.
On Wednesday, the rescue workers retrieved six more bodies from the river taking the toll in the boat capsize to 34. According to officials, at least 13 more are still missing.
Speaking on the rescue operations, Minister Kanna Babu said an expert team from Mumbai too had joined the search for missing persons. “All efforts are being made to retrieve the bodies that might have stuck in the boat. Experts are mulling where anchors can be dropped from helicopters to hook the boat and retrieve it from the river as it is difficult to get near the place where the boat capsized,’’ he said.
On the number of victims, he said taking into account the details of the survivors, at least 73 persons were on board at the time mishap. “Now, we got information that there was a worker in the canteen and with this kind of sketchy details, the total number of passengers on board might be anywhere near 73 (plus or minus one or two),’’ he said.