At the apartment in T. Nagar where Rohini and her family live, residents learned about the Alappuzha boat tragedy when media persons arrived on Saturday evening.
Rohini (37) and her daughter Sushmita (12) were among those who drowned in the Punnamada lake in Alappuzha on Saturday afternoon.
In Urapakkam too, a pall of gloom descended on the relatives of Pandithurai as they came to terms with the news of the demise of Sudheshini (32) and her daughter Ilakkiya (5). The victims were part of a 63-member tour group from Chennai that went on a two-day trip to the backwaters of southern Kerala.
All four died when they attempted to get into a house boat by stepping into another boat, which already had over 60 passengers. The boat capsized and all the passengers fell into the lake. While four of them drowned, the rest were rescued. Five passengers who were seriously injured were admitted to a government hospital in Alappuzha.
Rohini’s husband Manoj, 45, of Saravana Street of T. Nagar is running a franchisee of the Hearing Aid Centre in Nungambakkam. Pandithurai, an employee of the firm, had come on the trip with his wife Sudheshini, daughter Ilakkiya and three-year-old son Inbasekaran.
The firm had organised the trip to Kerala for employees and their families as part of their annual tour programme. Rajesh V., one of the survivors, told The Hindu that their boat was berthed by the side of another boat near the jetty and they were asked to pass through the first boat to reach their boat. When the women and children passed along the narrow bridge along the boat berthed closer to the jetty, it started to tilt, due to the load factor.
"We could rescue those who were closer to the jetty and even those on the other side of the boat. We tried to break a window that remained above water level and pulled some out, but the two women and children could not make it," said Kunjumon, one of the boat workers who was involved in the rescue operations.The tourist team was scheduled to return to Kochi by Saturday evening and stay there for the night. They had plans to visit Athirapally waterfalls in Thrissur on Sunday before returning to Chennai by the evening train.
Among the victims was, Rohini’s daughter Sushmita, an accomplished athlete and was a student of Good Shepherd School in Nungambakkam. She has won several awards and participated in district and national level athletic meets. Only on Friday afternoon, Sushmita participated in 100 metres and long jump event, which was conducted at the YMCA grounds in Nandanam as part of an athletic meet for youths.
Pandithurai, his wife Sudheshini and their two children were living in an independent house along with his brother Venkatesan and his wife Rekha and their children lived in M.G.R.Nagar, Adhanur Village Panchayat.