Lapses that turned costly


The most unpardonable among these lapses is the fact that rescuers found packets of new life jackets dumped in the engine room of the ill-fated boat on Thursday. If used, these life jackets would have saved many many lives. “It is true and is a serious matter. Those who are responsible for this unbelievable lapse will have to answer,’’ claimed KTDC chairman Cheriyan Philip. As a rule, life jackets are strictly used only in speed boats all over the state.

Boat driver Victor Samuel who is among those who managed to swim to safety has said that he was not trained to operate a fibre boat like the ill-fated one. He had received a boat driving licence a year ago and had actually started driving the brand new boat only four months ago. “I had stopped the boat and was turning it to enable people on the other side to watch the animals. At that moment, it seems everyone gathered to one side and the boat overturned,’’ Samuel said.

 However, several eyewitnesses and survivors like Peter Ryan, a foreign tourist, had a different take. “The boat had a tilt to the right from the beginning and this meant that there was something fundamentally wrong with the vessel,’’ he said. Ryan as well as the others have claimed that the boat overturned while taking a “tight turn to the left”.

Questions have also been raised about the design of the boat, its upper deck and whether its alignment was correct.

Justice Narayana Kurup, who inquired into the Thattekkat boat tragedy which claimed 18 lives in February 2007, says that modern boats are designed to handle weight shift to one side as it happened on Wednesday.

Impact on tourism

 While tour operators feel that the incident would have a negative impact on tourism in Thekkady for a while, the government is optimistic.

State Water Resources Minister N K Premachandran  said the government would take all precautions, like making life jacket mandatory for every boat passenger so that no such accidents occurred in future.

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