Eight students drowned when a boat carrying 35 people capsized in the Chaliyar River in Kerala’s Malappuram district on Wednesday.
The incident comes soon after the Thekkady boat tragedy in which 45 tourists drowned on September 30.
The students, aged between 16 years and 17 years, were on their way home from school when their boat capsized in the swollen Chaliyar River.
Local residents and sand mining workers rushed to spot and carried out rescue operations, saving many lives.
As the evening fell, Areekode, a small town on the banks of Chaliyar River, 350 km north of state capital Thiruvananthapuram, mourned its dead.
The victims studied at the SS Higher Secondary School at Moorkannur in Areekode.
Students usually use the ferry to reach the school from the bus stand.
Joida Ashraf, 17, one of the students on the ill-fated ferry, said the boat tilted a bit and capsized as the students stood up to avoid getting wet.
Fortunately, she managed to swim to safety.
Ashraf said the ferryman had asked some of the students to dismount but nobody paid attention, as there was a scramble to reach the bus stand.
Usually, there were about 20 students during the busy school hours, but on Wednesday, the number was close to 40.
Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has ordered a probe into the incident. The Thekkady mishap in September had exposed serious irregularities and neglect of safety features in Kerala’s water cruising sector.