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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

38 days after Godavari capsize, boat pulled out

More than a month after it capsized killing 51 passengers, the ill-fated boat, Royal Vashishta, was on Tuesday pulled out of the Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh.

india Updated: Oct 23, 2019 04:33 IST

Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
NDRF personnel carry out rescue operations at Godavari river. Image used for representational purpose only.
NDRF personnel carry out rescue operations at Godavari river. Image used for representational purpose only. (PTI Photo)
         

More than a month after it capsized killing 51 passengers, the ill-fated boat, Royal Vashishta, was on Tuesday pulled out of the Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district, said officials.

Teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and Navy divers, besides local fishermen rescued 26 passengers within hours of the mishap on September 15.

Bodies of 38 passengers were retrieved over a period of next one week. Thirteen passengers were missing since then. On Monday, one more body was retrieved.

An official spokesman from the Andhra Pradesh chief minister’s office said that seven bodies were recovered from the boat by Tuesday evening, and were sent to Government General Hospital, Rajahmundry for identification and post-mortem.

“So far 46 dead bodies are recovered, 5 dead bodies have to be traced,” the spokesman added.

Royal Vasishta, which started off on a journey to the picturesque Papikondalu carrying about 77 tourists, many of them from neighbouring Telangana, capsized at Kachchuluru in the swollen river on September 15 after getting caught in a whirlpool.

A fisherman, Dharmadi Satyam from Kakinada, who has expertise in retrieving drowned boats from deep inside the river, was engaged by the East Godavari district administration to carry out the operation.

Satyam’s team, which did not succeed in its earlier attempts because of heavy rain and huge inflows in the river, resumed operation on Sunday after the water level receded and the sky was clear.

Satyam told reporters that his team could locate eight more bodies in highly decomposed condition in the air-conditioned chamber of the boat, but nobody could dare enter as the chamber was stinking.

“We shall bring them out one after the other gradually. There could be some more bodies inside,” Satyam said.

The Andhra Pradesh government had announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of those killed.

As paper work related to ex-gratia disbursal to families of victims from Telangana was getting delayed, chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy directed officials to transfer the amount to the Telangana governments account first.

The Telangana government would complete necessary formalities and distribute the ex-gratia, officials said.

(With inputs from PTI)