Massive search and rescue operations are continuing in the Godavari river where a passenger boat capsized on Tuesday, and around 20 people are still reported to be missing. However, at least 23 people continue to be missing even as the rescue and relief operations are underway. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams from Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) teams from Kakinada and Visakhapatnam had also been deployed. They finally located the boat after more than five hours of search but pulling it out proved to be a daunting task, officials involved in the rescue operation said.
The incident took place around 5 pm when the weather conditions worsened and the area witnessed heavy rains. Earlier reports had said that at least 10 people swam to safety.
Speaking to TNM, a local CPI (M) leader, Venkat Rao said, "It is really unfortunate that among the passengers who drowned, there are people who came to meet revenue authorities at Indukurupeta regarding rehabilitation matters".
Naidu blamed the private boat operator for the tragedy, saying the ferry was packed with men, cement bags and motorbikes. Driver Khaza Mohiddeen was trying to reach banks at Vadapalli to deport two passengers. He said that AP Government should take stringent action on those who are running boats without proper safety.
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"The fact that the boat had sunk 60 feet deep into the river waters itself shows the magnitude of the tragedy".
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his anguish over the incident on Twitter. Condolences to the bereaved families.
Congress Minister Rahul Gandhi tweeted, "I'm deeply anguished by the tragic loss of innocent lives in the boat capsize on the Godavari River".