Hyderabad: The death toll in the boat tragedy in river Krishna yesterday mounted to 20 with the recovery of more bodies.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu who visited the accident spot near Ibrahimpatnam in Krishna district told the state assembly of the 21 survivors 17 were already discharged from hospitals and four were undergoing treatment.
He announced an ex gratia of Rs1 million to the families of each deceased person.
A two-month-old ferry run by a private tour operator capsized on Sunday evening while returning from Bhavanai island to Pavitra Sangamam to witness the Aarti or the evening rituals at the point of confluence of rivers Krishna and Godavari.
The Chief Minister said that as soon as the news of the accident was received the state government launched the relief and rescue operation and a team of National Disaster Relief Force was also deployed.
A criminal case of negligence was registered against the company which operated the ferry without permission from the government. Three crew members of the boat were absconding, he said.
Naidu also announced that the state government will set up an authority to regulate the operations of ferries and boats linking the tourist spots. The authority will have an IAS and an IPS officer and other officials.
Giving the details of the accident the chief minister said the tourists had first tried to board a ferry of the tourism department, but when the crew told them that it was late in the evening and they can’t travel, the people boarded the private ferry.
“On the way the ferry lost the balance leading to the tragedy,” he said.
Many of the victims were members of Ongole Walkers Club.
Officials said that the ferry was being operated for the last two months without any permission.