Saturday, 22 March 2014

10 women drown as boat sinks in India

A pall of gloom descended over a village near Deoli in Tonk district on Friday when 10 women labourers drowned when their boat capsized in Banas river. Five other women and a sailor managed to swim to the river bank. It has come up during preliminary investigation that the boat may have capsized after getting stuck in fishing net.

The incident exposed illegal boating in Banas river and how they are used to ferry people despite being overcrowded. Locals staged demonstration and blocked a road demanding compensation for the families of the victims. Chief minister Vasundhara Raje expressed grief over the tragedy. She also sought a report on places where boating takes place. She asked the principal secretary, transport to ensure safety of people who have to use boats for transportation.

The mishap occurred around 9am. "The women were from nearby Kasir village and were on their way to work. They were using a boat to cross the Banas river when it capsized," said a police officer.

The officer said that there were 16 people on the boat, including 15 women labourers and the sailor. "The boat capsized when it was in the middle of the river. Ten women drowned and died, while six others, including the sailor managed to swim to the river bank," said the officer.

Senior police and administration officers rushed to the spot to launch a rescue operation. All the 10 bodies were fished out with help of villagers. The bodies were rushed to a government hospital for post-mortem.

As the news of the mishap spread like wildfire, villagers gathered at the hospital in huge numbers. They blocked a road outside the hospital and demanded compensation for the victims' families.

The villagers said that the mishap could have occurred due to fishing nets. "The boat may have got stuck in a fishing net and lost balance. Besides, it was a small boat carrying 16 people," said the officer.

Villagers said that similar mishap have occurred several times in the past, but the administration still does not bother to do verification of the boats' condition and safety measurements. The sailor do not have license and also do not carry life saving jackets.

District collector Dr Teena Kumar took a meeting of senior officers and instructed them to ensure that all safety measures are followed in the future.

Boating accidents are common in India because many ferries are poorly built and are often overcrowded and there is little regard for safety regulations.

Saturday 22 March 2014


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