The bodies of 12 people, including two children, were retrieved after an open motor boat capsized in the Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district on Tuesday evening, reported IANS. However, The Indian Express quoted an official as saying that 14 bodies were found.
An unidentified official at Devipatnam police station said the bodies of eight women, four children and two men were recovered from the cabin of the boat, which sank between Devipatnam and Varapalli areas in the district. At least 40 people were onboard, including 20 members of a marriage party, reported the Hindustan Times. However, the number of people who were travelling on the boat is yet to confirmed.
At least 13 people swam to safety after the boat capsized, PTI quoted the West Godavari Superintendent of Police Ravi Prakash as saying.
“The bodies were found in the cabin where they had taken shelter from the rain and high-speed winds when the storm hit Tuesday afternoon,” the police official told The Indian Express. “They had locked the windows and door to escape the rain and had no chance to escape when the boat capsized. Divers broke open the windows and a door to bring out the bodies.”
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu visited the scene to supervise rescue operations and told reporters that 10 more bodies were yet to be pulled out, reported IANS. He said the accident had happened due to “human error”. Officials informed him that the boat was also carrying cement bags and two-wheelers.
East Godavari District Collector Kartikeya Misra said that the passengers asked the boat driver and the owner of the boat, who was also onboard, to take it ashore when it started raining. The boat driver, however, said it was safe to continue the journey. When he tried to turn the boat, it tilted due to the winds and capsized, Misra said, according to The Indian Express. They both swam to the shore and surrendered before police.
Indian Navy divers, National Disaster Response Force and Fire and Emergency Services were involved in the search and rescue operations.
The boat was found at a depth of 60 feet lodged in sand on the riverbed, and 100 metres away from the shore in Varapalli tribal hamlet in East Godavari district.