(Eds: Updates toll, adds CM’s statement in Assembly) Amaravati, Nov 13 (PTI) The death toll in the boat capsize incident in Krishna River near Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh has risen to 20 following the recovery of four more bodies this morning.
The deceased included nine women and a teenaged boy, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said in a statement in the Legislative Assembly this afternoon while observing that the tragedy took place due to the “greed” of the private operator While 16 bodies were fished out of the river last night, four more were retrieved this morning.Another four persons, including two crew of the boat, were reported missing, the chief minister said, expressing his “deep regret and pain” over the mishap.
An overloaded boat carrying nearly 45 people capsized yesterday close to the ‘Pavitra Sangamam’ (confluence point of rivers Krishna and Godavari) at Ferry village near Vijayawada.
Naidu said a two-member committee comprising an IAS and an IPS officer would thoroughly probe the incident and suggest safety and precautionary measures to prevent such tragedies in the future.
“It is due to the greed of the private operator that this tragedy occurred. They did not have any permission (to operate the ferry service)…the driver was not experienced and had no knowledge of the (river) route. They behaved so irresponsibly and caused the mishap,” Naidu said.
The chief minister said that 17 passengers, who were rescued in the mishap, were sent home after treatment while four more were undergoing treatment in a hospital.
Earlier in the day, he conducted an aerial survey of the river stretch between Bhavani Island and Pavitra Sangamam and then visited the accident spot at Ferry village.
He also visited the Andhra Hospital at Gollapudi and spoke to the passengers undergoing treatment.
One of the four was in a serious condition, the chief minister told the Assembly.
He said the boat was illegally operated by River Boating and Adventures Private Limited and a case under IPC section 304 (2) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) has been registered against five persons.
“The driver and the helper of the boat are still missing while body of the assistant driver has been recovered this morning. We will take stern action and punish the guilty as per law,” Naidu said.
The victims covered under the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Beema Yojana would be extended Rs 10 lakh compensation per family while those uncovered would be paid Rs 8 lakh, he said.
He complimented the two fishermen of Ferry village, Nadakuditi Pitchaiah and Kanna Sivaiah, for displaying exemplary courage and rescuing several passengers of the ill-fated boat.
Two teams each comprising 30 NDRF personnel, a 45-member team of the State Disaster Rescue Force (SDRF) and 60 members of the Disaster Response and Fire Services Department have been roped into the rescue operation.
The chief minister commended the NDRF, SDRF and other government teams that took part in the search and rescue operation.
The Assembly passed a resolution mourning the tragedy.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.