Massive search and rescue operations are continuing in the Godavari river where a passenger boat capsized on Tuesday, and around 20 people are still reported to be missing.
On Tuesday evening at around 6pm, a passenger boat carrying nearly 40 people from Devipatanam to Vadapalli of East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, capsized at Manturu village.
Top officials who are supervising the rescue operations that are on in full swing, with NDRF, Navy and SDRF forces stepping in, said that as many as 16 people were rescued, while around 20 are feared to have drowned.
Rampachodavaram ASP, Ajitha Vijendla, who is supervising the rescue operations along with District SP and Collector said, "Rescue operations are still on, though we can't give exact number of the people who are missing /drowned. According to our initial probe, around 20 people are still missing."
As per locals and Telugu media, several of the passengers had come to give representation to revenue authorities regarding matters pertaining to Polavaram rehabilitation issues, while many of them had come to the weekly market as well.
Speaking to TNM, a local CPI(M) leader, Venkat Rao said, “It is really unfortunate that among the passengers who drowned, there are people who came to meet revenue authorities at Indukurupeta regarding rehabilitation matters."
When TNM asked ASP Ajitha about the incident, she said, "All of them aren’t from the same village but are from villages across the river bank. They had come to the weekly market (santha) to buy groceries, this happened on their way back."
The boat apparently belongs to Laxmi Venkateshwara boat services and the owner Khaja Mohinuddeen has surrendered at the Devipatnam police station following the incident, ETV reported.
Police told TNM that a criminal case has been filed against the owner of the boat, and he is in police custody.
Reason for mishap
A sudden heavy whirlwind is said to be the reason behind the mishap. Additional SP said, "The apparent strong wind is the reason behind the boat toppling."
Giving an update about rescue operation, the officer said, "We have been able to trace the location of the boat."
Apparently due to the heavy wind and storm, they have locked the boat doors , which in turn became a curse for the passengers. While a few jumped out and reached the bank safely, the remaining got stuck inside the boat.
Ajitha further said, "The doors being locked might be the reason behind more people getting stuck. At present, we are trying to pull the boat out and this may reveal how many people got stuck inside and under it."
Police officials have informed that CM Chandrababu Naidu is visiting the accident spot to oversee the rescue operations and meet the victims.