Boat tragedy survivors blame lack of safety for mishap

Last Updated: Friday, October 2, 2009 - 00:23

Thekkady: The Kerala government on Wednesday
suspended boating in the Thekkady lake after several survivors
of yesterday`s boat tragedy blamed lack of safety measures for
the capsize that claimed 41 lives.

A judicial probe would cover all aspects of the accident
including safety following complaints of poor measures and the
steerman`s handling of affairs, Chief Minister V S
Achuthanandan said.

Driver Victor Samuel, who is undergoing treatment at a
hospital in Theni in Tamil Nadu, blamed a group of tourists
for the mishap saying they moved towards one side of the
vessel.

Dinesh Dinakaran, a tourist from Madurai, who lost his
wife and two children in the mishap, said adequate safety
measures were not in place and the boat did not even have life
jackets.

Peter Rayan, a tourist from London who was travelling in
another boat, said the vessel was tilting to the right which
suggests `there was something fundamentally wrong with it`.

"The Centre was considering setting up a unit of the
National Disaster Response Force in Kerala, which now exists
only in Tamil Nadu for the south," Union Minister of State for
Home Mullapally Ramachandran said after visiting the injured.

Meanwhile, wailing kin identified the bodies of their
relatives who were on board the state-run double-deck boat
that sank after cruising five km.

The state has announced a solatium of Rs five lakh to the
next of kin of the deceased.

Search operations by naval divers to recover the bodies
of victims were called off this evening due to inclement
weather and darkness even as relatives of three tourists
claimed they were missing. The operations resume tomorrow.

Ten bodies were fished out taking the death toll in the
capsize to 41, state officials said, adding all the victims
had been identified.

Eighteen of the victims were women and seven children,
Idduki SP Kuttappayi said.

Of the 41 deceased, 15 vacationers were from Tamil Nadu,
11 from Delhi, six from Andhra Pradesh, five from West Bengal,
two from Karnataka and one each from Maharashtra and Punjab.

Sources in the hospital where the bodies were brought had
earlier put the death count at 42 but later said it was 41.

Meanwhile, eyewitnesses claimed that many life jackets
were found in the boat`s engine room without even their
plastic covers being removed.

Bureau Report



First Published: Friday, October 2, 2009 - 00:23

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