Friday, 28 August 2015

Fort Kochi boat tragedy death toll rises to 10

With the recovery of two more bodies on Friday, the death toll in Fort Kochi's boat tragedy rose to 10, police said.

The Marine Enforcement found the body of a man who has not been identified yet. Another body was found on Friday morning and was identified to be of Fousia, a Kumbalangi native.

Navy, Coast Guard and Marine police personnel, had on Thursday found body of a man floating in the backwaters in the Island area of the city.

He has been identified.

Confusion over number of passengers

The exact number of passengers on board the boat at the time of the mishap was yet to be ascertained.

Police, however, said preliminary investigation indicates that there were about 35 people in the boat, said to be over three-decades old, which capsized and sank after being allegedly hit by a speeding fishing craft in the harbour mouth off Fort Kochi on Wednesday.

About 25 passengers were rescued from the sinking boat on Wednesday. Nineteen passengers have been admitted to various hospitals in the city.

Four passengers who are seriously injured in the accident have been admitted in a private hospital here, police said.

Financial aid

Meanwhile, Kerala government has sanctioned an ex-gratia of five lakh rupees to the families of those killed in the boat tragedy.

Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said the severely injured would be given a compensation of Rs 1 lakh. The government will take care of the medical expenses of the injured passengers.

The passenger vessel was on its way from Vypin to Fort Kochi when it was hit by the fishing craft at the harbour mouth at about 1.40 pm on Wednesday.

It was the quick rescue operations initiated by the local people and tourists, who were witness to the tragedy, that saved lives of several passengers, eye witnesses said.

Reports said that the driver of the fishing boat did not have a valid licence.

Ill-fated boat

The ill-fated boat, that was built 35 years ago, was given port directorate's fitness certificate till 2017, reports accessed by Manorama News proves.

However, the manufacturing date of the boat is not mentioned in the certificate. The fitness certificate valid till 2013 was renewed only last year.

According to the fitness certificate, the boat should have 42 lifebuoys. However, the boat had only 3 lifebuoys, passengers said.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who visited the injured in the hospital on Wednesday evening, had said the government will bear the treatment expense of the people admitted in various hospitals.

The passenger vessel was on its way from Vypin to Fort Kochi when it was hit by the fishing craft at the harbour mouth at about 1.40 pm on Wednesday.

Swift response saved lives The swift response of the local people helped minimise the casualties in the boat mishap at Fort Kochi on Wednesday. The people near the Kamalakadavu jetty and fisherfolk resting in fishing vessels swung into action soon after the disaster.

The first to jump into the water were two foreign tourists, according to an eyewitness. The duo, a man and a woman, plunged into the water and saved three persons, he said. The details of the foreigners couldn’t be confirmed as they left the place soon after the incident. As the mishap took place near the jetty, the casualties did not go up, according to those who took part in the rescue operations.

“If it had happened in the middle of the shipping channel, the rescue efforts would have been difficult as the area has a depth of over 11 metres and very strong currents,” said Anas, a native of Fort Kochi. The local people started rescue efforts even before the arrival of the Coast Guard, Navy and Fire and Rescue services, he said.

Although the Navy and Coast Guard officials carried out extensive rescue operations, the search for drowned passengers could not be completed as it took a long time to lift the passenger vessel from the waters. A divers’ team from the Navy and Chetak helicopter was also pressed into service.

Thousands of people crowding the area made the relief work difficult with some people turning aggressive against the police and mediapersons. A section of the crowd showered abuses on the crew of TV channels accusing them of ‘feasting’ on a tragedy. The crowd also warned against shooting the visuals on mobile phones with the threat that such mobiles would be thrown into the water.

Friday 28 August 2015


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