A day after the boating accident off Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin district left nine people dead and several others injured, one survivor recalls the horrific details of this incident to The News Minute.
After a week of excited planning, 32-year-old Antony Alwin had taken his wife, son and a friend's family to the Manapadu church on Sunday. Their journey and visit to the church, well-known through the Coramandel Coast had all gone as planned. They were set to return when they noticed the boats that were ferrying people from the area.
"We had never seen these boats before and were a little sceptical. But it had already ferried two batches of people, so we decided to board it," claims Antony, a welder by profession.
Intrigued by the prospect of going on a joyride, Antony and his family together with his friend and their family got onto the fishing boat. "Several of us got onto one boat and I don't know the exact headcount. But what I do know is that it was overloaded," he adds.
Antony claims to have boarded the boat at around 5.15 pm in the evening, while reports suggest that the vessel capsized at around 6pm. But minutes after he and his family boarded the boat, their joyride turned into a nightmare.
"Even as we were making our way through the waters, the engine suddenly stopped. After that, the boat was being thrashed by the waves and water began to fill inside the vessel," explains Antony. Following this, he claims, the boat completely turned over, plunging the occupants into the waters of the Bay of Bengal.
"We were all struggling to swim up to the surface. Several people were stuck under the boat and couldn't escape. So many people died before me," he recalls.
Antony managed to pull his wife and child to safety and reportedly made them sit on top of the capsized boat till help arrived. His friend, however, lost his wife in the incident. "She was just 27-years-old, my wife's friend. The fishermen and other boats nearby came to help but nothing could be done," he claimed.
The welder, who was on his way back with his family to Trichy when he spoke to TNM, claimed that the incident could have been averted if only the boat was not overloaded. A case has been registered and a police investigation is underway to determine the cause of the accident.