- Tourist boat carrying 38 people overturned near Vijaywada
- Cops say boat did not have licence to operate, no life jackets either
- National, state disaster rescue forces called in, inquiry ordered
There were 38 people were on the boat, news agency PTI reported, which belonged to a private tourism company. The incident took place when the boat set off for Pavitra Sangamam at Ferry village near Vijayawada from Bhavani Island, the police said. Fifteen people were rescued by local fishermen.
Police said the boat did not have a licence to operate. One of the rescued persons said there were no life jackets on board. The boatman, who is among the survivors, said no life jackets are needed on this stretch.
Two teams of the National Disaster Response Force, each with 30 members, were called into service to search for the survivors, a senior police officer said. A 45-members team from the State Disaster Relief Forces and the fire service teams were also at work.
Most of the passengers were said to be members of the Ongole Walkers Club in Prakasam district while some were from Nellore who were on a visit to Vijayawada.
Deputy Chief Minister N Chinarajappa arrived at the spot to oversee the rescue operations and announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the families of those killed.
Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, leader of opposition YS Jaganmohan Reddy and other leaders have expressed grief over the tragedy.
Tourism Minister Bhuma Akhila Priya ordered an inquiry into the incident and directed her department officials to find out whether the boat operator had requisite permissions.
(With inputs from PTI)