Chennai: A day after a tourist boat capsized off the Andaman coast leaving 21 people dead, the scale of the tragedy is becoming apparent. Preliminary reports suggest the boat which had a capacity of 25-30 passengers was overloaded with almost 48 people on it. The passengers have claimed they were not informed of any safety precautions by the crew. "There were life boats but no one instructed us on how to wear them," a survivor Thyagarajan said.
There are questions being raised regarding negligence on the part of the crew which has already been arrested. Many are still grappling with horror of the tragedy. "We did not know what was the approved capacity of the boat so we did not question the crowding," another survivor Valli said.
The organiser of the tour said that such tours had been held in the past as well. "We have gone 5 times before. Suddenly there was water inside the boat," tour organizer Selvaraj said.
The Andaman administration has now sent a report to the Home Ministry after it sought an explanation on alleged lapses. This even as the police continued to insist there was no delay in launching rescue operations as earlier reported. Tour organisers meanwhile insist that while the boat crew was at fault, passengers also need to take safety precautions. "When we tell passengers to wear life jackets they say they are wearing new clothes and want to take pictures so they don't wear jackets," tour organiser Dhanasekhar said.
With the MHA taking cognisance of the incident one would hope that a proper protocol will soon be devised for the security of tourists in India's coastal region.