21 tourists die as boat capsizes in Andaman Sea
Two passengers were missing and 23 were rescued after the boat, carrying 46 passengers, sank on its way from Ross Island to the North Bay around 4 pm, said South Andaman district Deputy Commissioner P Johar.
Sources in the district administration said the boat had a capacity to carry 25 people, but there were 46 passengers on board.
Most of the tourists were from the 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 the two missing, said sources.
It was suspected that some people 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 1 lakh each to the family of the deceased.
Singh also spoke to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and briefed him on the rescue operation that he ordered after the accident.
The rescued persons were admitted to G B Pant Hospital in Port Blair. The bodies were also taken there for post-mortem, said the sources.
Helpline numbers at the district control room are: 1070 and 03192-240127/230178/238881, and those in G B Pant Hospital are 03192-230629 and 9933274092. The local helpline number is 102.
Additional District Magistrate of South Andaman has been directed to conduct a magisterial inquiry into the incident.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed shock over the tragedy, said a PMO statement in New Delhi.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha has also announced a solatium of Rs 1 lakh to the families of the deceased.