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Death toll in the boat capsize incident in Krishna river near Vijayawada rose to 20 and the boat operator was arrested on Monday. A woman who had been rescued died in hospital, while NDRF personnel recovered two more bodies.
According to Krishna District Collector B Lakshmikantam, officials were still unsure about the number of people on board when the boat capsized after hitting a sand bar just metres from the jetty.
At least 38 members of the Ongole Walkers Club had hired the boat on Sunday for an excursion to nearby Bhavani Island. It capsized minutes before it reached its destination. Andhra Pradesh Fire and Emergency Services personnel found no life jackets on the boat.
“The operator was not given permission to operate a passenger boat… A criminal case has been registered against the owner,’’ Tourism Minister Akhila Priya Reddy said on Monday.
Officials said all the deceased were members of Ongole Walkers Club. They apparently hired the private boat after they missed the one operated by AP Tourism. The group had gone to Vijayawada for a picnic from Ongole, 150 km away.
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu announced ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh to families of each victim. Naidu said a two-member committee comprising an IAS and IPS officer would probe the incident and suggest safety and precautionary measures to prevent such mishaps in future.