No life jackets, divers onboard capsized boat: V Narayanasamy

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Port Blair/New Delhi, Jan 27: There were no life jackets and divers on board the ill-fated boat that capsized in Andaman and Nicobar Islands killing at least 21 people, Union Minister V Narayanasamy on Monday said.

Eyewitnesses to the boat tragedy also claimed that there was a blast before the capsize and that there was an hour's delay before the marine rescue team could reach the spot.

"The boat capsized and they (tourists) died. In fact I came to know from reports that there were no life jackets in the boat and no divers to rescue the people. There was no guard in the boat," the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office said, terming the incident as "sad" and "unfortunate". He also demanded a thorough inquiry into the tragedy.

"There should be a thorough inquiry and action should be taken against those responsible," said Narayanasamy, who represents Puducherry constituency in Lok Sabha. While 21 persons died, 29 were rescued and one person was stated to be missing in the boat tragedy.

The victims included eight men, 13 women and one child, P Johar, Deputy Commissioner, South Andaman district said. He said 16 more persons had been rescued last night in addition to the 23 rescued earlier, taking the total number of rescued to 29. Eye witnesses told PTI today that before the capsize, they heard the sound of a blast.

Fishermen fishing nearby also heard the sound and immediately rushed to the scene, the eye witnesses said. They alleged that there was about an hour's delay before the marine rescue team's could reach the spot.

The local administration has launched further investigation and search operation for the missing person is going on.

21 persons died, 29 were rescued and one person was stated to be missing.

Of the dead, three hailed from Maharashtra, 16 from Tamil Nadu and one each from West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

The survivors included seven from Maharashtra, 15 from Tamil Nadu, two from New Delhi, one each from West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh and three from the Andaman Islands.

One missing person from Kanchipuram was feared dead, source said. The rescued persons were admitted to the G B Pant Hospital in Port Blair. Sources in the district administration said the boat had a carrying capacity of about 25 people but was carrying double the number of tourists from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, New Delhi, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh besides, the Andamans.

Of the 16 dead from Kanchipuram, 10 were women besides a child.

The other three women victims hailed from Mumbai, Kolkata and Uttar Pradesh respectively. The civil administration pressed into service Police Fast Interceptor boats, shipping vessels, coast guard vessels and coast guard helicopters.

Lt Governor Lt Gen (Retd) A K Singh had announced an ex-gratia of Rs one lakh to the family of the deceased and conveyed his condolences to the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra from where most of the victims hailed.

Arrangements were being made to despatch the bodies to their respective places, the sources said. Additional District Magistrate of South Andaman has been directed to conduct a magisterial enquiry.

PTI

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