6 killed as passenger boat sinks off Kochi

Collision with fishing trawler leads to tragedy

6 killed as passenger boat sinks off Kochi

The festival season had a grim twist in the Fort Kochi neighbourhood on Wednesday after six people including three women were killed when a passenger boat capsized after being rammed into by a speeding fishing trawler.

Intensive search operations were on at the accident spot – about 100 metres away from the Kamalakkadavu jetty near Fort Kochi – late on Wednesday evening as authorities refused to rule out possibilities of more casualties.

The deceased have been identified as Ayyappan, who hails from Kaalamukku, Sindhu from Puthanthodu, Sainaba from Azhikkal, Sudheer from Mattanchery, Volga and Joseph from Fort Kochi. At least 26 people were reported to have taken treatment at different hospitals in Fort Kochi and Ernakulam town. Four people were admitted in the ICU at the Medical Trust Hospital in Ernakulam.

The incident happened at about 1:40 pm when a fishing trawler, after filling diesel in the vessel, sped into the middle portion of MV Harsha, the passenger boat that was heading from Vypeen island to Fort Kochi.

The boat broke on impact and started sinking. A search is on for men who were in the fishing trawler at the time of the incident. Teams of the Indian Navy, Coast Guard, police and voluntary organisations were involved in an extensive search and rescue operation at the accident spot.

The broken portions of the passenger boat were recovered by the rescue teams before evening. The accident spot is close to a shipping channel and falls on a busy boating route. The Cochin Port Trust has ordered an investigation on the incident.
 Though reports said 28 tickets were sold on the trip, residents of the area and survivors said the boat could have carried between 35 and 40 passengers. Meanwhile, concerns were also raised on an alleged lack of safety gear in the boat.

“The passenger boat is more than 40-years-old but based on the preliminary reports that we have, it’s the fishing trawler that triggered the accident,” Antony Kuriethara, Fort Kochi councillor, told Deccan Herald. The councillor said the passenger boat had all mandatory operating documents in place.

Residents of the area sprung into action soon and commenced rescue operations. Some of the passengers admitted in the Fort Kochi Taluk Hospital were later referred by doctors to other hospitals following diagnosis of chemical pneumonia after having consumed water mixed with diesel from the sinking boat.

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