India: More than 20 people killed as double-decker tourist boat capsizes in Kerala

India: More than 20 people killed as double-decker tourist boat capsizes in Kerala

A double-decker boat carrying more than 30 passengers has capsized off a beach in southern India, killing more than 22 people, including children.

Police officer Abdul Nazar said the rescue teams were expecting to recover more bodies from inside the boat after pulling it ashore from the muddy waters.

He said India’s National Disaster Response Force and the Indian Coast Guard personnel were engaged in rescue work and trying to find those who were still missing.

The tourist boat capsized near the estuary of Poorappuzha River in Tanur, a coastal town in Kerala state’s Malappuram district, and most of the passengers were tourists.

Mr Nazar said authorities were investigating the cause of the accident and it appeared the boat capsized due to overcrowding.

The dead included children who had come for a ride on the boat during their school holiday, sports minister V Abdurahiman told the Press Trust of India news agency, adding that four people in a critical condition were admitted to hospital.

The state’s chief minister tweeted his condolences to the victims’ families and urged the district’s authorities to oversee the rescue.

Monday has been declared a day of official mourning, PTI reported, quoting a government statement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “pained by the loss of lives” and announced compensation to the victims’ families in a tweet.

Boating accidents are common in India, where many vessels are overcrowded and have inadequate safety equipment.

In September 2020, 12 people drowned when a sightseeing boat capsized on the swollen Godavari River in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

In May 2018, 30 people died when a boat capsized in the same region.