Officials investigating the boat capsize tragedy near Karwar in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka confirmed that the boat was operating beyond its capacity of 20 persons and did not have life jackets. The incident lead to the deaths of 14 people while a search and rescue operation, which started on Monday, is still continuing to find two more missing persons. 18 people were rescued from the boat.
Confirming that there were lapses which led to the tragic incident, Uttara Kannada Deputy Commissioner SS Nakul told TNM, "We are examining the incident because there were certain children that have been brought along. We have already booked a case against the boat owner and driver since they had not used the life jacket. We are also speaking to survivors and trying to understand what was the cause that led to this incident."
The owner of the boat Dayanand Jadhav and the person steering the boat Ranganath Jopade were arrested by police officials at Chittakula Police Station, 8 km north of Karwar. They were booked under Section 304 of the IPC - punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The incident occurred at around 2:15 pm on Monday when the boat was returning from Kurumgad Island, around 10 km from Karwar. The boat capsized near the delta of the Kali River after a huge wave rocked the boat and tilted it to one side. The boat was ferrying passengers who had taken part in the Lord Narasimha festival at the Sree Narasimha Devi temple on the island. The festival is celebrated on the first full moon day of January. Boats from the Indian Navy, Coast Guard and Navy helicopters were deployed for search and rescue.
35 people were on-board the boat which has a capacity of 20 people excluding four boat-crew members. In Karwar, it is common practice to ferry boats even when the number of people is beyond the boat's capacity, especially in the time of festivals. The district administration is viewing this incident as a wake-up call to put in place stringent rules for boat owners and drivers in the district. "We will be taking corrective steps. Due to the tradition and emotion involved in this festival, there was some liberty allowed to them (boat owners). But from now, we will take stringent action and ensure safety of travellers during the festival," added SS Nakul.
13 people belonging to the same family from Hosur in Shiggaon taluk of Haveri district were on-board the boat. Four persons from the family survived the incident while seven have been confirmed dead. The search is on for two other missing persons from the family.