AP sunken tourist boat salvaged by traditional methods

AP sunken tourist boat salvaged by traditional methods

The Royal Vasishta boat after it surfaced and TV grab of Dharmadi Satyam speaking with media.

Thirty-seven days after the tragedy in which 51 people drowned in River Godavari; Dharmadi Satyam - an expert in retrieving sunken boats from the 200 meter deep water using traditional methods of anchor, ropes and Poclain excavators - brought the “Royal Vasishta” boat to the surface on Tuesday.

Dharmadi Satyam - an expert in retrieving sunken boats

The private double-decked Vasishta boat sank deep in the whirlpool on 15 September. The boat with 77 tourists capsized near Kachchuluru in Devipatnam block of East Godavari district on Sunday.

A total of 26 tourists were rescued by locals and 39 bodies have been were retrieved by the NRDF and SDRF teams in the next two days. Few bodies surfaced far away from the accident spot in a putrefied condition. In all 26 tourists either swam back to shore or rescued by the fishermen of Kuchchuluru. The other 12 were feared trapped in the AC chambers of the boat.

Earlier, 73 were said to have capsized in the river, and the numbers have been increasing with the rescue operations in the river.

Dharmadi and team from coastal town of Kakinada were entrusted the job to bring the boat to the surface for a payment of Rs 25 lakh by the government.

He and his 25 member team too failed in the first attempt when the river was still receiving flood water.

The team began their second-round attempt on 15 October, dropping a 1,000-meter iron rope that snapped several times after touching the boat, which was stuck in the sandbed. However, a part of the railing of the boat came off, confirming the final resting place of the ill-fated boat.  

Finally, the deep divers from Visakhapatnam hired by Satyam pinpointed the location. In the second effort, the driver cabin got detached from the body and came out. Finally, on Tuesday afternoon, the remaining part of the boat came out.  During the course of retrieval, one body was found on Sunday, thus taking the confirmed death toll to 39. 

What the Dharmadi team achieved is no less a brave act as even the experts of the Indian Navy, Mumbai and Uttarakhand couldn’t do as the boat was initially found at a depth of 300 meters. Fierce whirlpools and heavy flooding made the rescue boats unstable.