A day after a double-decker tourist boat, Royal Vashishta, with nearly 60 passengers on board, capsized in the Godavari, no survivors or bodies were recovered on Monday. The debris of the boat was yet to be sighted as search operations resumed at 5.45 am with more than 100 NDRF, SDRF, police and fire department and emergency personnel, officials said.
At least 27 people were rescued on Sunday. The state government has officially put the death toll at nine so far, and 33 people are still missing.
A helicopter each from the Navy and the ONGC conducted aerial searches on Monday over the site where the boat capsized on Sunday afternoon, it was informed.
A statement from the Andhra Pradesh government said, “An Indian Navy helicopter carried out multiple searches from accident site at Devipatnam to Polavaram for 3 hours and 15 minutes. No survivors or bodies were sighted. No debris of the boat sighted. A second chopper – a Chetak — has now resumed aerial search while hundreds of personnel are scouring the river in search of the missing persons and the sunken boat.”
According to officials, search personnel in at least 12 inflatable boats, AP Tourism fast boats, and boats requisitioned from fishermen living in villages alongside the river are involved in the search operations. A team of deep divers of the Navy has also joined the search, and although the area of mishap has been identified, the boat is yet to be located, it was informed.
The Royal Vashishta capsized near Katchulur village near Devipatnam on Sunday just as many tourists on board were preparing to have lunch.
Survivors told officials that most tourists had removed their life jackets.
Galla Shiva Shankar, a survivor, said: “The crew gave all of us life jackets and insisted that we wear them. For nearly two hours everyone had the jackets on, but many removed them when it became very sultry. A cultural show also started on the first floor of the boat and many people who were singing and dancing there also removed the life jackets.”
Shortly thereafter, Shankar said, the boat began to tilt on one side and went down quickly. “I was wearing the life jacket and we were rescued by local villagers who came in their boats,” Shankar added.
According to officials, out of 27 people rescued 16 were given first aid at Rampachodavaram hospital and moved to the Government General Hospital at Rajamundry. The remaining 11 are undergoing treatment at Rampachodavaram hospital.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy conducted an aerial survey of the area and said corrective measures will be taken to ensure such mishaps do not occur in future.