Kerala govt orders judicial probe into tourist boat tragedy

Malappuram, May 08 (PTI):
A day after the tragic tourist boat accident that claimed the lives of 22 people including women and children, the Kerala government on Monday announced a judicial probe into the matter and decided to give a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of the deceased.
The boat capsized near an estuary close to the Thoovaltheeram beach in the Tanur area around 7.30 pm on Sunday.
Addressing the media here after visiting Tirurangandi Taluk hospital and meeting the Kunnummel family which lost 12 members, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan termed the accident a “tragedy” and said the government would bear the expenses of those under treatment.
Vijayan announced the probe and the compensation after an all-party meeting held at Tanur in which senior opposition leaders also participated.
“The all-party meeting has decided for a judicial inquiry in this matter. The probe will cover the technical issues related to the boat’s safety among other matters. A judicial commission comprising technical experts will be formed. A Special investigation team of the Kerala police will also probe the matter,” Vijayan told the media.
He also announced that a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each would be given to the family of each of those who died in the boat capsize.
Vijayan said the government had earlier set up a safety protocol for tourist boats and would examine whether the said protocols were followed or not in connection with the incident.
He also informed the media that two out of the 10 people admitted in the hospital had been discharged and now there were eight under treatment.
Ministers K Rajan, K Radhakrishnan, V Abdurahiman, P A Mohammed Riyas, Ahamed Devarkovil, Antony Raju, Roshy Augustine, A K Saseendran, senior opposition leaders including P K Kunhalikutty, K P A majeed, other MLAs and senior politicians took part in the meeting.
According to district officials, 15 of the deceased are minors aged eight months to 17 years.
Tanur police said a case was registered yesterday itself against the owner of the boat, which reportedly did not have a licence to function. The owner is absconding.
Meanwhile, Palarivattom police in Kochi — about 130 km away from Tanur — on Monday afternoon apprehended a car and the mobile of the owner of the boat.
Palarivattom police said the accused was not in the car but his family was here to meet an advocate.
Earlier in the day, Minister Rajan said that seven teams including National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Indian Coast Guard, Fire and safety, the Navy and local people were involved in the search and rescue.
One more NDRF team would join the efforts, he added.
“The deaths of 22 people have been confirmed. We have identified that there were 37 persons on the vessel. Five of them swam to safety yesterday. It was a private boat and there is no official count of passengers,” Rajan said.
Minister Riyas said the first priority was for the rescue operations.
Meanwhile, the Navy said three naval diving teams comprising 15 divers along with all necessary diving sets, gear and equipment had been mobilised from Kochi for the rescue efforts.
“Close coordination is being maintained with the disaster management and state authorities to augment the search operations,” the Navy said.
The state government has announced a day of mourning on Monday and cancelled all official events as a mark of respect to those who lost their lives in the accident.


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