Amaravati: At least 12 people died in the boat capsize in Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh with searches still on for ten other missing passengers, feared drowned, officials said on Wednesday.
The state government announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the victims of the mishap that occurred on Tuesday near Manturu village in East Godavari district with bad weather considered a probable cause.
The rescue teams that toiled for hours, to first trace the sunken boat and later to pull it ashore, so far extricated 12 bodies, including that of two children, officials said.
Efforts were still on to trace the other ten, they said.
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who visited the accident spot, said human error was the main reason for it and assured that those guilty would be brought to book.
"There was gale yesterday (Tuesday) and the boat was also laden with cement bags and two-wheelers. That caused the mishap. We will not spare anyone responsible for the incident," he said.
Though a warning about the inclement weather was issued at least half an hour in advance, there was no communication system in the boat to receive it, Naidu said.
He also announced that a government job would be provided to an eligible person each from the families of the victims and a house would also be built for them.
The boat, with about 35-40 passengers, was on its way to Rajamahendravaram from Devipatnam when the tragedy struck.
At least 13 persons swam to safety after the boat capsized because of strong winds, West Godavari Superintendent of Police Ravi Prakash said.
The boat which got stuck in the sand of the riverbed at a depth of at least 40 feet was pulled ashore today.
Besides the Navy, personnel from the National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force, Fire Services, revenue and police departments are involved in the search and rescue operations.
The passengers of the boat belonged to Kondamodalu, Kachluru and Talluru villages.
Earlier, the boat was located after an aerial survey by Naval helicopters, carrying expert drivers, from the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam.
However, with all the doors and windows of boats closed, extricating the bodies trapped inside proved to be cumbersome exercise for the divers.
They could initially pull out only two bodies after breaking open the glass windows.
East Godavari district Collector Kartikeya Misra, Superintendent of Police Vishal Gunni and West Godavari SP Ravi Prakash supervised the rescue operations.