At least nine people, including seven children, lost their lives Wednesday night when a boat capsized in Odisha’s Kendrapara district in the worst such tragedy in the state. A similar accident in June this year had claimed six lives. The deceased were part of a tourist group from Hasina village in Jagatsinghpur district. The group was returning from a visit to Hutikola on Jambu Island, which is situated at the estuary of the Mahanadi and the Bay of Bengal.
A granary building at Hutikola, which was used to store grains during the Great Famine of 1866-67, continues to be a major draw for tourists.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday announced ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to next of kin of deceased and free medical treatment to the injured. Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and former Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda conveyed their condolences.
There are calls to probe the accident, even after the government promised to enforce safety measures on tourist boats in the aftermath of the June accident.
On Thursday, the boat was carrying around 55 people when its maximum capacity was around 25. Rescue operations to retreive the dead and the survivors was hampered due to poor visibility at sunset and foggy conditions as the operation ran late into the night.
“We thank Indian Coast Guards, ODRAF and others who joined in rescue operations in the crocodile infested waters,” said Odisha’s Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi.
Panda took to Twitter to express his condolences: “After every such tragedy (thr’ve been many), the state govt announces it will strictly enforce rules banning boats’ overloading & requiring life vests / inflatable tubes on board, but does not.”
Woke to awful news of 9 deaths from a boat capsizing in my Kendrapada, Odisha.
After every such tragedy (thr’ve been many), the state govt announces it will strictly enforce rules banning boats’ overloading & requiring life vests / inflatable tubes on board, but does not. https://t.co/J3QkgUrwWn
— Baijayant Jay Panda (@PandaJay) January 3, 2019
“There will be a probe on the circumstances causing the accident and whether the boat in question was registered,” said state Transport Minister Nrusingha Sahoo.