Kerala admits lapses, lifejackets to be mandatory

"It is a waterway accident like a road accident. There is no gravity or impact beyond that. It will not hit Kerala's tourism sector," Kerala Water Resources Minister N.K. Premachandran told reporters.

Admitting that there had been no proper systems in place to guide the passengers travelling in the boat, Premachandran said the government would take all precautions, including ensuring that every passenger wore a lifejacket, to avoid such accidents in future. There were lifejackets on board, he said, but now it would be mandatory to wear one.

He asked the media to not give "new dimensions" to the tragedy. At least 37 people were killed on Wednesday evening when the boat carrying 76 tourists capsized in a lake in the Periyar wildlife sanctuary in central Kerala. Premachandran said the ill-fated boat, owned by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC), had been given a fitness certificate by the Indian Registry of Shipping, an internationally recognised organisation. "The boat was a perfectly built one. It was certified by the Indian Registry of Shipping," the minister said.

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