Rajahmundry, Sep 16 (IANS) Rescue workers recovered four bodies from the Godavari river on Monday, while the search was on for other tourists who went missing after a boat capsized in East Godavari district on Sunday, officials said.
Personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) pulled out four bodies, including that of child.
With this the number of bodies found since Sunday rose to 12. Officials said about 25 persons were missing.
Two helicopters and deep divers of the Indian Navy, in addition to a chopper of the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC), were taking part in rescue and search operations, which resumed Monday morning.
NDRF, State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and fire services personnel with eight boats are participating in the search operations in the swollen river.
The boat, with 61 tourists, nine crew members and three singers, overturned near Kuchuluru village on Sunday afternoon while on its way to the picturesque Papikonda hills.
Officials said that 27 people were rescued while about 25 were missing.
As the bodies are believed to have been washed away, search operations are also being carried out at Dowleswaram barrage. The gates of the barrage were also shut.
Andhra Pradesh State Disaster Response and Fire Services Director General A.R. Anuradha said the rescue workers were moving downstream.
“The concentration is now on getting the boat up,” she said, but admitted that it is a tough task as the boat is believed to be stuck very deep.
The official believes that there may be some bodies in the boat as it turned upside down.
The private boat was allegedly being operated without permission and survivors alleged that negligence by the driver led to the tragedy.
Authorities had stopped boat services in the river for the last two months due to heavy inflows from upstream. The boat was operated despite five lakh cusecs of water flowing from upstream.
The driver was apparently not familiar with the topography as he steered the boat into an area considered dangerous due to depth of the river. Strong water currents and winds blowing at a speed of 90 km per hour are believed to have caused the disaster.
Survivors said the driver and the crew appeared untrained to deal with the emergency. “I jumped into the river after I saw the driver jumping into it,” said a survivor wearing a life-jacket who was among those rescued by locals.
However, both the driver and his assistant lost their lives.
Some survivors said the engine stopped working even as the driver was trying to accelerate the boat while facing strong currents and winds. The second engine of the boat was reportedly not working.
They said life-jackets were not given to all passengers. Those who got the life-jackets and wore it could be rescued by some fishermen.
As many as 36 tourists were from Telangana, including 22 from Hyderabad. Transport minister P. Ajay Kumar rushed to Rajamundry and called on the survivors and relatives of the missing.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy made an aerial survey of the accident site while heading to Rajahmundry to call on the injured and console the families of the victims.
Reddy on Sunday announced Rs 10 lakh ex-gratia each to the families of the dead while Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao announced financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh each to the victims from Telangana.