International desk, September 15: Twelve people have died and several are missing after a tourist boat overturned in the Godavari River in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh of India on Sunday afternoon. There were 63 people on board the boat and 17 have been rescued, authorities said.
The boat, operated by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, had started off for the picturesque Papikondalu hill range, a prime tourist destination, from Gandi Pochamma Temple near Devipatnam, news agency PTI reported.
Fourteen people, who wore life jackets, were saved by villagers. The East and West Godavari district officials, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and the police rushed to the spot.
According to sources, the Royal Vasista boat carrying 61 tourists left for the scenic Papi hills and capsized after an hour at Katchuluru village.
Some villagers of Thutugunta, who noticed the accident, saved 14 persons. A couple of bodies were retrieved from the river, the villagers said.
East Godavari district Superintendent of Police Adnan Nayeem Asmi said that of the 61 persons, of which three are the boat crew, 16 are alive.
“About 42 tourists are missing and three bodies have been retrieved from the river, and shifted to Devipatnam police station. Search is on for the remaining bodies”, Mr. Adnan told The Hindu.
The accident took place near Kacchuluru village in Devipatnam Mandal, about 200 km from Amravati.
Two teams of the National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force, with a total of 140 personnel, have been sent to the accident spot for the rescue operation along with a helicopter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “extremely pained” by the incident.
“Extremely pained by the capsizing of a boat in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. Rescue operations are currently underway at the site of the tragedy,” he tweeted.
The Godavari River has swelled in the past few days with over 5 lakh cusecs of floodwater flowing on Sunday afternoon when the incident took place.
The incident comes days after one in Madhya Pradesh where 11 people drowned during an idol immersion at the end of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.