KOCHI: The death toll in the Fort Kochi boat tragedy, in which a passenger vessel sunk after being hit by a speeding fishing boat, went up to eight as two more bodies were recovered on Thursday.
While the body of Sujeesha, 17, of Kannamaly, was found at Ganapathikkad, whereas near the Chellanam coast, the body of a native of Fort Kochi Vijayan, 65, was fished out from the backwaters near Fine Arts Hall here.
Bodies of two out of the four reported to be missing — Fousiya, 25, of Kannamaly and Sebastine, 24, of Nazerath, Fort Kochi — could not be found.
The police on Friday arrested Kannamaly native Johny Samuel,50, the driver of the fishing vessel Basilen.
According to police, Shaiju, a boat mechanic arrested on Thursday, was at the boat’s steering after asked by Johny Samuel to dock the vessel near Mattancherry harbour. Johny was not on the boat when the accident took place.
Johny and Shaiju were produced at the residence of the Judicial First Class Magistrate here and were remanded in judicial custody.
The search operations by Coastal Police, Coast Guard and Indian Navy continued till 3 pm on Thursday. Search was also conducted at Chellanam and Kannamaly areas.
Till now, neither the district administration and nor the police have a clear picture about the number of people on board the ill-fated Fort Kochi-Vypeen ferry M B Bharath. From the number of tickets sold and the statements of survivors, the authorities believe that there were around 35 persons and only two are to be found.
According to Fort Kochi Tehsildar Beegum Tahira, 33 persons - including rescuers and victims - were admitted to various hospitals in Fort Kochi and Kochi. Eight of them continue to be in a critical condition.
A majority of those admitted are suffering from pulmonary edema - fluid accumulation in the lungs. Two rescuers, who injured their legs after being hit by the boat’s propeller, have been admitted to the Fort Kochi Taluk hospital,” she said.