Driver, assistant arrested in Thekkady boat tragedy

Last Updated: Monday, October 5, 2009 - 21:10

Thekkady (Kerala): The driver of the boat that capsized last week in the lake in Thekkady killing 45 people has been arrested along with his assistant, police said on Monday.

Victor Samuel,38, and his 24-year-old assistant Anish were arrested late Sunday, four days after the boat capsized in the Thekkady lake in the Periyar wildlife sanctuary on Wednesday evening.
"Now we will take them to the accident site. They have been charged with culpable homicide and would be produced before a court here," Superintendent of Police PA Valsan, who is heading the investigation, said.

The preliminary findings suggest the boat had a seating capacity of 75, but there were 12 extra people. Furthermore, the boat had inherent problems.

The double-decker boat, owned by the state-run Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) was pressed into service last month.

Samuel and Anish are both contract employees of the KTDC.
"While Samuel had the necessary license, his deputy did not have one. In the coming days, scientific tests would be done by boat experts and then the report would be submitted to the government," said Valsan.

The state`s tourism, forest and irrigation ministers will meet Monday to discuss the safety and security measures to be adopted in tourist destinations.

The state government has announced it will initiate a judicial probe into the incident.

Kerala to strengthen safety measures

Amid growing criticism
that failure to comply with norms led to the Thekkady tragedy
which left 45 people dead, the Kerala government today ordered
an audit on safety aspects of all tourist boats operating in
the state.

A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level
meeting which reviewed the safety aspects at boating centres
in the state, Home and Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishan
told reporters here.

A committee, comprising representatives of all
departments concerned, would be appointed for the purpose. The
committee would be asked to submit report within ten days, he
added.

As part of improving security measures, life jackets
would be made mandatory while boating in tourist centres.
Rescue boat teams would be stationed to act in case of
emergencies.

Government would also explore the possibility of
bringing in a law to ensure safety of tourists at boating
centres. The matter would be discussed with the Law
Department, he said.

Bureau Report




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