Indian authorities step up rescue effort for 20 tourists missing after boat capsize

The East Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh - REX
The East Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh - REX

The Indian authorities have intensified their rescue efforts today with more than 20 people still missing after a boat illegally carrying Indian tourists capsized on Sunday.

The bodies of 12 people have so far been recovered from the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh after the ‘Royal Vasishta’ vessel collided with a rock formation while traveling to the popular tourist destination of Papikondalu.

The local government said they had banned tourist boats from operating on the river after heavy rainfall caused water levels to rise dangerously.

‘Stern action’ would be taken against those responsible for organising the tour, according to the Home Minister for Andhra Pradesh.

Local media said while life jackets were available on the boat most passengers were not wearing them because it was unusually hot.

They also reported that the crew seemed untrained to deal with the emergency.

The ‘Royal Vasishta’ was carrying 61 people, including crew, when it sunk.

Everyone on board was an Indian national and the majority were believed to be tourists from the neighbouring Telengana state.

Two helicopters, eight boats and a team of divers have been deployed to search for those missing and feared drowned. They are yet to locate the vessel which is believed to have sunk to a depth of over 300ft.

The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh accompanied one of the helicopters to conduct an aerial survey of the accident spot while Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences.

India has an extremely poor safety record when it comes to boat travel. Operators rarely adhere to laws which govern the number of passengers who can safely travel at one time and do not carry out checks. In May 2018, 30 people died after a similar boat capsized close to the location of Sunday’s accident.