Two days after a tragic boat accident in Tuticorin’s Manapad village led to the death of 10 people, police officials say that the boat capsized as it was overcrowded. The fishing boat - which usually carried four or five fishermen - had 42 people onboard when the accident took place. The owner did not have permission to carry tourists for joyrides either, the police said.
But while there were 750 visitors in the village for a Church festival, there were no police personnel deployed near the sea. The police also claimed that since ‘no tourist rides are allowed in the area’, no personnel were stationed at the shore.
“Most of the officers go for village visits to keep a check on the fishermen but no one is deployed near the sea. It is not a regular joyride that happens. The neighbouring people requested for a ride and the owner allowed it,” a sub-inspector from the marine department told The News Minute.
“Most of the people on the boat came to Manapad for a festival in the Manapad Holy Cross church. They had requested the boat owner to take them for a joyride and he took out his boat. The accident happened on the third joyride,” he said.
“Manapad is one of the nine fishing villages in Tuticorin and the boat was owned by a fisherman called Kevin. For fishing, about four to five people can ride boat, but on Sunday, there were 42 people on the boat,” he added.
On the fatal trip, the boat was thrashed with waves and it capsized. “The owner of the boat has been arrested and remanded to prison. He allowed the joyride to get some extra money. Each person paid Rs. 20 for the ride,” the sub-inspector said.
Speaking about the incident, Anthony Alwin, a man who was present in the boat at the time of accident, said, “There were about 40 people in the boat. The accident happened around 6 pm. He had already taken two trips, so we thought we can also go for a joyride,” he said.
But in few minutes, the engine stopped and water started seeping into the boat. “The boat capsized and I managed to save my wife and child. My friend’s wife died in the accident,” Anthony said.
They were admitted at Tiruchendur government hospital and the investigation by the marine department is underway. Sunday’s accident is the first major boat accident in Tamil Nadu after the one that occurred at Pulicat lake on December 25, 2011 killing 22 persons.