Six students missing after Andhra boat capsize, rescue operations called off
The boat overturned around 4.30 pm after hitting the pillar of a partially-constructed bridge on the Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh.Updated: Jul 14, 2018 22:28 IST
Six students, all of them girls, were feared drowned when a boat carrying 31 people, most of them students, capsized in the Godavari river near Pasuvula Lanka village of Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district on Saturday evening, officials said.
Though initial reports said two bodies had been recovered, the rescuers later confirmed both were alive and had been shifted to a hospital in an unconscious state.
Deputy chief minister Nimmakayala Chinna Rajappa, who was supervising the rescue operations, said out of the 31 on the boat, 25 have been rescued so far.
“We have stopped the rescue operations as it was getting dark and the Godavari river was in spate,” Rajappa said.
The rescue operation, with navy divers brought from Visakhapatnam, will resume Sunday morning.
Officials have identified the missing people as: Ramya, Maneesha, Srija, Priya, Anusha and Suchitra — all students of the Government High School, Pasuvula Lanka.
Local residents alleged that the students had been “forced” to travel to Talarivaripalem Lanka across the river to participate in the Vanam-Manam (we and forest) programme initiated by the state government, despite Saturday being a holiday for the schools.
The boat was en route to Saladivari Palem from Pasuvullanka when the accident took place around 4.30pm on Saturday, after it reportedly hit a pier of a partially constructed bridge and overturned into waters that had turned turbulent due to the opening of sluice gates at the upstream Dowleshwaram barrage, officials said.
Some students in the boat climbed the base of the pier and saved themselves. Fishermen and local villagers besides bridge construction workers rescued about 20 people.
Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu said teams of the National Disaster Response Force and the State Disaster Response Force from Rajamahendravaram and Visakhapatnam have been deployed for the rescue operation along with police and revenue personnel.
East Godavari district collector Kartikeya Mishra along with senior police officials rushed to the spot to oversee the rescue work.
Local residents say that boats are the only mode of transport for people to travel from one island to another on the Godavari. Although the state government began constructing a bridge last year, the work is yet to be completed.
On May 16, as many as 20 people – mostly tribals – died in a similar boat accident on the Godavari near Mantoor village of Devipatnam block in the same district.
First Published: Jul 14, 2018 18:18 IST