Vijayawada, May 16 (IANS): Bodies of 12 persons including two children were retrieved from Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday as a search was on for others who went missing after a launch capsized the previous evening.
Rescue workers pulled out the launch by using boats and heavy cranes. Earlier, the Indian Navy personnel traced the launch reportedly at a depth of 60 feet.
Teams from the Navy, state disaster management department and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were engaged in the rescue operations with the help of Navy helicopters.
Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who rushed to the scene to supervise rescue operations, told reporters that 10 more bodies were yet to be pulled out.
The incident occurred near Manturu in Devipatnam block of East Godavari district around 5 p.m.
The boat, which sailed from Kondamodalu, was on its way Rajamahendravaram. It is believed to have capsized due to gusty winds.
Naidu announced Rs 10 lakh compensation each for the next of kin of the deceased. He said the government would provide jobs to one member each from the families of the victims and would also make arrangements for free education for their children.
The Chief Minister said human error led to tragedy. He was informed by the officials that the launch was carrying cement bags and two-wheelers.
When the boat was caught in gusty winds and rains, those onboard closed the windows. This led to the capsize and also sealed the escape routes.
The incident came close on the heels of a boat with over 100 tourists catching fire in the Godavari river in the same district on May 11. The passengers had a narrow escape as the driver wheeled the boat to the shore and they jumped off before the entire boat was completely destroyed.