"Please have some pity on me and leave this place. Get the letter," an official is heard telling a boat driver, hours before Sunday’s tragedy.

Preventable tragedy Video shows official warning company hours before boat capsizedScreenshot
news Monday, November 13, 2017 - 15:07

Less than a day after nineteen people died when a ferry capsized in Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna River, allegations have now emerged that the boat operators did not have a license.

And while the AP Tourism Department has been blamed for allegedly turning a blind eye to these illegal boat rides, a new video has emerged that shows officials had in fact warned the boat company from operating.

The video which surfaced on Monday was reportedly taken on Sunday morning, hours before the tragedy. It shows a tourism official agitated by the fact that the River Boating and Adventures, the company that owned the capsized boat, had kept their boat fleet on the dock, without the required permission.  

While the official argues with a driver, he even unties the boat and warns of seizing their boats.  

The tourism official is heard saying, "Please have some pity on me and leave this place. Get the letter."

The Hindu’s P Sujatha Varma reports Kondal Rao, the owner of River Boating and Adventures, had attempted to get tourists to board his boat but was warned by a tourism department official. Rao had then shifted to Punnami ghat, where the crowd was bigger, with tourists eager to hop on board any boat that went to Pavithra Sangam.The Hindu also reports that a few tourism officials had invested in Rao’s company.

Speaking to reporters following the tragedy, Andhra Pradesh Tourism Minister Akhila Priya said, "The boat company didn’t procure any permission from either the irrigation or tourism departments. We will definitely take actions against the management and whoever was responsible for this tragedy." She added, “If there is any fault with the officials, we will also take action against them." 

At around 5.45pm on Sunday evening, the boat travelling from Bhavani Island to Pavithra Sangamam in Ibrahimpatnam, capsized shortly before it reached its destination, after it hit a sand bar.  

According to the minister only three boats have permission to operate between Durgha Ghat, Bhavani Island and Pavitra Sanghamam.

Besides, illegally operating the boat, the company failed to provide passengers life jackets.

Operators also violated norms by allowing 42 passengers on board as against the boat’s capacity of 30.  

Nineteen bodies have been recovered so far. A search is underway for five missing persons including three crew members. The missing passengers are Sujana and seven-year-old Popuri Ashwika.

An FIR is registered against five persons belonging to River Boating and Adventures Partners.

The accused’s were Sesham Moda Kondala Rao, Neela Sesha Giri Rao, Gedala Srinu, Vinjamuri Vijaya Saradhi and Chitti.

 

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