Boat capsizes in the Indian state of Kerala and leaves 22 dead

Posted on 8 May 2023 By Tsoku Maela

‘At least 22 people have died after a packed tourist boat capsized in India’s southern Kerala state,’ according to a report by BBC. The death toll could rise as rescue efforts are underway and the vessel is pulled from muddy waters. Abdul Nazar, junior superintendent of police of Malappuram district, confirmed that overcrowding caused the double-decker boat to capsize, stating that ‘the boat was reportedly carrying about 50 people, or double its capacity when it overturned on Sunday night’.

Picture: Getty Images

The police have registered a case of culpable homicide against the owner of the boat, who is reportedly absconding. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed condolences on Twitter, saying he was ‘pained by the loss of lives’.

According to local media, many passengers were trapped under the boat, and the darkness held back rescue efforts. The casualties included women and children on school holidays. At least four people who were taken to hospital are in critical condition, said Kerala’s sports and fisheries minister V Abdurahiman.

Shameer, a lifeguard involved in the rescue operation, told Mathrubhumi news channel that ‘the boat was completely upside down’ when rescuers arrived at the scene. ‘I recovered four bodies, and none of them had life jackets on,’ he said.

Survivors told local media that many of the other passengers were also not wearing life jackets at the time of the incident. Ambika, a resident of the nearby Tanur area, told Manorama news channel that when she first saw the boat approach, everyone seemed to be ‘cheering happily. But suddenly the lights went out, the boat sank, and the cheers were replaced with screams for help,’ she said.

‘Boat accidents are not infrequent in India where vessels are often overcrowded, poorly maintained and lack safety equipment,’ the report stated. The exact number of missing passengers was not immediately clear, and authorities said they were investigating the cause of the accident and are looking into whether the boat had a proper permit.

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