At least 21 persons died on Sunday when the tourist boat carrying them capsized in the Bay of Bengal near the Andaman and Nicobar islands, official sources said.
The boat carrying 45 people – tourists from Kanchi Puram district of Tamil Nadu and Mumbai, and crew members — sank on its way from Ross Island to North Bay.
The South Andaman district administration confirmed 21 deaths and said 13 people were rescued. Civil administration and defence establishments like the Coast Guard conducted operations to rescue remaining passengers, the sources said.
It was suspected that some persons might have been trapped in the cabin of the boat ‘Aqua Marine’.
Though the boat had the capacity to carry only 25 passengers, it was overcrowded which led to the accident, the sources said.
A group of tourists from Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu who were staying in a resort at Prothrapur in South Andaman district, and another small group of tourists from Mumbai were on the boat, they said.
Lt Governor Lt Gen (Retd) A K Singh announced an exgratia payment of Rs one lakh to the family of the deceased.
Singh also spoke to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and briefed him about the rescue operations he ordered after the accident.
The rescued persons were admitted to G B Pant Hospital in Port Blair where the bodies were also taken for postmortem, the sources said.Helpline numbers set up at the district control room are: 1070, 03192-240127/230178/238881 and those in the G B Pant Hospital are: 03192-230629/9933274092. The local helpline number is 102. Additional District Magistrate of South Andaman has been directed to conduct a magisterial enquiry into the incident.