Zee Media Bureau
Port Blair/New Delhi: The tragic boat accident in Andaman and Nicobar Islands has once again brought to focus the impunity with which safety guidelines are flouted by boat owners to earn a quick buck.
22 lives were lost in the tragedy that occurred when tourist boat Aqua Marine carrying 45 people sank off Viper Island, around 25 kilometers from Port Blair, yesterday afternoon.
Local media reports claimed that locals had heard an explosion onboard the boat before it sank rapidly.
A report on the incident has been submitted by the Andaman administration to the Home Ministry today.
There are also allegations that rescue teams reached the site two hours after the accident, leading to an increase in causalities.
While the exact cause of the accident is yet to be ascertained, reports said overcrowding may be one of the reasons for the tragedy as the boat was designed to carry only 25 people.
29 people were rescued. Of the 22 casualties, 17 bodies have been identified. While 21 bodies were found yesterday, one body was found today morning. Most of the dead were from Kanchipuram, they were part of a package tour to the islands.
The rescued have been admitted to the GB Pant hospital. Search is on for the missing.
Administrator of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lt. Governor AK Singh has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident. Additional district magistrate of South Andaman will conduct the probe.
Singh also announced a compensation of Rs1 Lakh each to the next of kin of the victims.
The owner of the boat has been taken into custody, reports added.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa have expressed sorrow over the deaths.
The Tamil Nadu government has sent officers to Port Blair to assist those struck by the tragedy.