A boat called ‘Atlantic,’ carrying nearly fifty people, capsized in Tanur in the Malappuram district of India's Kerala state at around 7:30 pm on Sunday, May 7th, 2023. The location of the mishap was near an estuary close to the Thoovaltheeram beach in the Tanur.
Investigations into the cause of the accident that killed twenty-two people, including children, brought forth several blunders in the system. Several safety regulations were violated. Firstly, the boat was dangerously overcrowded; fifty people boarded the vessel when it only could carry twenty. Secondly, the owner didn’t have a permit to continue services past 6 p.m., and when the boat overturned, it did not have a valid safety certificate mandatory for tourist vessels. Even more disastrous, many passengers—primarily women and children— were not wearing life jackets.
Local fishermen, scuba diving teams, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and fire force groups arrived quickly and began carrying out rescue operations in full force. It took almost two and a half hours to bring the boat, which was stuck in a muddy area, to the shore. Malappuram District Collector told Times of India that authorities are in constant touch with the survivors admitted at various hospitals and that the rescue operations are in full swing. The Indian Navy has also joined rescue ops; the Navy’s helicopter ‘Chetak’ has been called in to conduct an aerial survey of the site and assist local diving teams.
The owner of the double-deck boat, Nazar Pattarakath, disappeared after the mishap occurred. The police are looking for Nazar and have registered a non-bailable case accusing him of murder.
The Kerala boating accident has set off a war of words between the ruling and opposition parties. The opposition and the BJP argued that lack of action on the part of the ruling party has led to several fateful boating accidents in the state in the past one hundred years. Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and senior Congress leader V D Satheesan, who visited the accident site and the homes of those who died in the tragedy, termed it a "man-made disaster." BJP state president K. Surendran also spoke along similar lines and demanded the resignation of Kerala Tourism Minister P A Mohamed Riyas, according to a statement issued by his party.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while expressing his deepest condolences to those deceased in the incident, announced ex-gratia of ₹two lakhs each to the deceased's next of kin. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan visited Taluk Hospital in Malappuram district, where the incident's survivors were admitted. Condoling the loss of lives in the incident, the CM wrote on Twitter: “Deeply saddened by the tragic loss of lives in the Tanur boat accident in Malappuram. Have directed the district administration to effectively coordinate rescue operations, which are being overseen by Cabinet Ministers. Heartfelt condolences to the grieving families and friends.” The state administration, too, has announced ex-gratia of ten lakhs to the kin of the deceased.
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