Third major boat tragedy in Kerala in recent years
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Last Updated: Wednesday, September 30, 2009, 22:40
Thiruvananthapuram: The tourist boat mishap in Thekkady which claimed at least 25 lives on Wednesday was the third major water tragedy in Kerala in the last seven years.

On July 27, 2002, twentynine passengers of a ferry met with watery grave in the Vembanad lake between Muhamma and Kumarakom.

More recent one was involving primary school children on an excursion when their boat sank in a reservouir near Thattekkad bird sanctuary in Ernakulam district, killing 15 children and three teachers in 2007.

A state endowed with 44 rivers, backwaters and network of canals, water tourism has of late emerged as a major tourist attraction in Kerala.

Lush forests of the hilly Thekkadi in the Periyar Tiger Reserves have always been a major attraction for tourists, both domestic and foreign.

Located near Mullaperiyar reservoir, wildlife watching while cruising in the lake is much sought after both by tourists as well as wildlife enthusiasts.

From the boats, cruisers can sight a wide range of animals including herds of elephants, deer, boar and bison.

The potential of Thekkadi was first identified by Europeans, who reared plantations in the nearby hilly areas. The royal house of Travancore had in early 20th century set up a Lake palace on the banks of the Periyar, close to the spot where today's tragedy happened.

Backwaters and rivers being main sources of transportation, both human and freight, Kerala had witnessed several watery mishaps in the early part of the 20th century.

In 1988, the Bangalore-Kanyakumari Island Express derailed on the Peruman bridge and plunged into Ashtamudi Lake, killing 105 people while in 2001 Mangalore Mail fell into Kadalundi river claiming the lives of 50 passengers.

One of the grimmest of the boat mishaps to happen in Kerala was in 1924 when the great Malayalam poet Kumaran Asan met with watery grave when the boat he was travelling at Pallana in the Vembanad lake in January 1924.

Ironically, the boat on which the poet was travelling was named "Redeemer".

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, September 30, 2009, 22:40

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