Boat retrieved 38 days after it sank, killing 51 people
Amaravati, Oct. 22 (PTI): Thirty eight days after it sank, killing 51 people, the ill-fated boat ‘Royal Vasishta’ was on Tuesday finally pulled out of river Godavari.
The retrieved boat was almost in a dismantled shape.
Rescue teams reportedly found some highly decomposed bodies in the boat.
There is, however, no official confirmation about the number of bodies inside the boat.
None could venture near the boat to find the bodies because of the unbearable stench emanating from it.
Royal Vasishta, which started off on a journey to the picturesque Papikondalu carrying about 77 tourists, many of them from neighbouring Telangana,capsized at Kachchuluru in the swollen river on September 15 after getting caught in a whirlpool.
While 26 passengers were rescued as they were wearing life jackets, bodies of 39 people were retrieved over several days.
The boat remained stuck at least 200 feet inside river Godavari and salvaging it proved a daunting task.
A fisherman Dharmadi Satyam from Kakinada, who has expertise in retrieving drowned boats from deep inside the river, was engaged by the East Godavari district administration to carry out the operation.
For about a fortnight now, Satyam and his team had worked continuously on the boat, but was only partly lucky in pulling out though they could lay hands on it.
That the boat was stuck in deep sand also made the task of retrieval difficult.
Satyam brought in scuba divers from Visakhapatnam on Sunday, who jumped into the river and tied the boat with heavy ropes, following which it was fully pulled out on Tuesday evening.
The railings, roof and other parts of the boat were found damaged.
“It took a lot of time to pull out the boat because of the depth. In the end, however, we are happy that the task has been accomplished.
The scuba divers worked very hard as well,” an elated Satyam told television news channels at the accident spot.
The Andhra Pradesh government had announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the deceased.
As paper work related to ex-gratia disbursal to families of victims from Telangana was getting delayed, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy directed officials to transfer the amount to the Telangana governments account first.
The Telangana government would complete necessary formalities and distribute the ex-gratia, officials said.