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8 dead, 25 missing as tourist boat capsizes in Andhra

Amaravati: A private boat carrying around 60 tourists capsized in swollen Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh, leaving at least eight people dead and 25 others missing on Sunday, the state government said.

As many as 27 people survived the tragedy and were brought to safety, the state Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) said in a release late Sunday night.

The boat ‘Royal Vasishta’ was on its way to the picturesque Papikondalu tourist spot in the middle of the river when it met with the accident, apparently on colliding with a large rock formation, at Kachchuluru in East Godavari District, about 200 km from here.

Quoting initial reports, police earlier said 12 bodies had been retrieved, but the SDMA later put the toll at eight.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy among others expressed grief over the tragedy.

A team of deep divers from the Indian Navy reached the accident spot at Kachhuluru and joined the National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force personnel in the search for the missing passengers.

The river has been in a spate for the past few days and over 5.13 lakh cusecs of floodwater was flowing on Sunday when the mishap occurred.

Most of the tourists were from Hyderabad and Warrangal in neighbouring Telangana and state Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao announced an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh each to the bereaved families from his state and deputed ministers to coordinate in the relief works and help the injured.

Though the number of deceased from Telangana was yet to be confirmed, at least 14 people from Warangal district and Hyderabad are missing in the incident, officials said in the state capital.

Though the boat has licence, it was not yet clear whether it had the required permission to ferry tourists since all boat operations in the river have been prohibited because of the flood.

The Prime Minister in a tweet said: “Extremely pained by the capsizing of a boat in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari. My thoughts are with the bereaved families.” He said rescue operations are currently underway at the site of the tragedy.

“The loss of lives due to capsizing of a boat in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh is very unfortunate. I am deeply pained,” Shah tweeted.

Conveying his condolences to the berevaed families, Gandhi said on Twitter: “I pray that all those reported missing will soon be accounted for and that they are safe.”

Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu expressed grief over the tragedy. Jagan Mohan Reddy, while expressing shock over the grave tragedy, announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the deceased.

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