Vijayawada, May 16: Tuesday’s launch capsize in Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh claimed 22 lives and the rescue workers on Wednesday fished out bodies of 12 persons including two children, officials said. Even 24 hours after the incident, the search was on for the missing. Rescue workers pulled out the launch by using boats and heavy cranes. Earlier, the Indian Navy personnel traced the launch reportedly at a depth of 60 feet.
Teams from the Navy, state disaster management department and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were engaged in the rescue operations with the help of Navy helicopters. Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who rushed to the scene to supervise rescue operations, told reporters that 10 more bodies were yet to be pulled out. He said a total of 44 people were on the launch and half of them swam to safety. The incident occurred near Manturu in Devipatnam block of East Godavari district around 5 p.m.
The boat, which sailed from Kondamodalu, was on its way Rajamahendravaram. It is believed to have capsized due to gusty winds. Naidu announced Rs 10 lakh compensation each for the next of kin of the deceased. He said the government would provide jobs to one member each from the families of the victims and would also make arrangements for free education for their children.
The Chief Minister said human error led to tragedy. He was informed by the officials that the launch was carrying cement bags and two-wheelers. When the boat was caught in gusty winds and rains, those onboard closed the windows. This led to the capsize and also sealed the escape routes. Hundreds of wailing relatives of the victims thronged the river shores near the accident site. Authorities handed over the bodies after autopsy under a tent near the river bank. (IANS)