Boat tragedy: Kin receive bodies

Boat tragedy: Kin receive bodies

The bodies of 21 people who died after a boat carrying 51 tourists capsized in the sea near Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar islands were brought by air to Chennai on Monday.

Among those dead, 16 were from Tamil Nadu, three from Maharashtra, and one each from West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. Around 32 tourists from Kancheepuram were on the ill-fated boat.

One person was still missing and feared dead, while all the bodies had been identified and sent back to Chennai and other places where they hailed from, sources in the Andaman and Nicobar administration said.

State Minister Chinnaya, Kancheepuram, District Collector K Baskaran, district revenue authorities and other officials were present at the airport. Chief Minister J Jayalalitha, who announced financial assistance to the families of the deceased, also deputed two senior officers to Andaman to coordinate with rescue operations.

Eyewitnesses also claimed they heard a blast before the boat “Aqua Marine” capsized on the Andamans sea near Port Blair. The boat had a capacity to carry only around 25 people, official sources said.

A magisterial inquiry by Additional District Magistrate (South Andaman) has been ordered by Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Lt Gen (retd) A K Singh. The probe will establish the exact cause and also pinpoint if there was violation of safety guidelines and responsibility will be fixed, Singh said.

Meanwhile, the owner of the boat and two other people were detained and are being questioned and an FIR has been lodged against them, Singh said, adding they are likely to be charged under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code (culpable homicide not amounting to murder). Six more people were rescued last night taking the total to 29. The victims included eight men and 13 women.

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