Kerala boat tragedy: Death toll touches 22; CM announces judicial probe

The PM announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of each victim

INDIA-BOAT/CAPSIZE Rescue team members search for survivors after a boat capsized off the coastal town of Tanur in the Malappuram district of the southern state of Kerala | PTI

The death toll in the Kerala houseboat tragedy touched 22 on Monday morning and seven of the victims are children. As many as nine people are in the hospital and the condition of four is said to be critical. The rescue operations are being carried out by the NDRF and Fire and Rescue personnel.

"Of the 20 bodies, 15 have been identified. The boat is being hauled ashore and more bodies are expected to be recovered from inside," Abdurahiman told PTI.

The incident happened on Sunday night when the houseboat capsized near Tuvalthiram beach at Tanur area of Malappuram district in Kerala. Many of those who died were women and children who had come for a ride amid the ongoing school vacations. 

There is no clarity yet on how many were on the boat when the tragedy struck. As per sources, tickets were given to over 39 people. 

Addressing the media here after visiting Tirurangandi Taluk hospital and the Kunnummel family which lost 12 members, Vijayan termed the accident as a "tragedy" and said the government will bear the expense of those under treatment.

Vijayan announced the probe and the compensation after an all-party meeting held at Tanur in which senior opposition leaders also participated. "The all-party meeting has decided for a judicial inquiry in this matter. The probe will cover the technical issues related to the boat's safety among other matters. A judicial commission comprising technical experts will be formed. A Special investigation team of the Kerala police will also probe the matter," Vijayan told the media.

He also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the family of the deceased. The CM said the government had earlier set up a safety protocol for tourist boats and will examine whether they were followed or not in connection with the incident.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condoled the deaths and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of each victim. "Pained by the loss of lives due to the boat mishap in Malappuram, Kerala. Condolences to the bereaved families. An ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh from PMNRF (Prime Minister's National Relief Fund) would be provided to the next of kin of each deceased," Modi was quoted as saying in a tweet by the Prime Minister's Office.

An emergency meeting has been called by Kerala Health Minister Veena George to assess the situation. The Minister had also instructed hospitals to ensure expert treatment for the injured and to speed up the post-mortem examinations of the bodies so that they can be released quickly to the next of kin.

The post-mortems will be conducted at Tirur, Thirurangadi, Perinthalmanna hospitals and the Mancheri Medical College by bringing sufficient staff, including doctors, from districts such as Thrissur and Kozhikode, a statement by the minister said.

Overcrowding the reason?

Though the boat was said to be overcrowded, Abdurahiman said the reason for the accident is not yet known. An investigation is already on, he added.

The boat is said to have lacked a fitness certificate. There are also reports that the vessel was a fishing boat modified into a tourist boat. The owner of the boat, identified as Nasser, is absconding.


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