21 die as boat capsizes

Port Blair: At least 21 persons were killed on Sunday when an overcrowded tourist boat capsized on the Andaman Sea near here in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Two passengers were missing and 23 persons were rescued after the boat carrying 46 passengers sank on its way from Ross Island to the North Bay at around 4 PM, said P Johar, Deputy Commissioner, South Andaman district.

Sources in the district administration said that the boat had a capacity to carry 25 people, but there were 46 passengers on board.

Most of the tourists were from Kanchipuram district in Tamil Nadu while others were from Mumbai in addition to the crew-members.

Civil administration and defence establishments like the Coast Guard rescued 23 passengers and efforts were on to trace the whereabouts of two missing, the sources said.

It was suspected that some persons might have been trapped in the cabin of the boat ‘Aqua Marine’.

The tourists from Kanchipuram were staying in a resort at Prothrapur in South Andaman district. Lt Governor Lt Gen (Retd) A K Singh announced an ex-gratia of Rs one lakh to the family of the deceased.

Singh also spoke to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and briefed him on the rescue operation he ordered after the accident.

The rescued persons were admitted to the G B Pant Hospital in Port Blair. The bodies were also taken there 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.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed shock over the boat tragedy and condoled the loss of lives, a PMO statement said in New Delhi.