Preliminary enquiry finds life jackets were available on board but not given to passengers

The State government on Monday brought back the survivors and the bodies of the deceased, of the Sunday boat accident off the coast of Port Blair, in separate flights to Chennai.

The Kancheepuram district administration had arranged for five ambulances at the airport to provide emergency care to patients. The bodies were transported in other government ambulances. On behalf of the State government, animal husbandry minister T.K.M. Chinnayya offered condolences to relatives of the victims.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had, on Sunday, announced ex-gratia payment of Rs. one lakh each to the families of the deceased. Thol. Thirumavalavan of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, on Monday, said the monetary relief offered by the Centre and State governments was not enough and demanded the dependants of the victims be given government jobs.

An official note at the airport gave the names of the victims as Perumal (63), Meenal (62), R. Karunakaran (61), K. Vanaja (49), T. Anuradha (52), R. Susheela (51), D. Selvaraj (64), S. Anjalam (58), S. Manikandan (35), M. Usha (30), S. Darshini (7), Shantha Bai (55), Shanthi Bai (50) and Suresh Sah, whose age could not be confirmed — all from Kancheepuram. Those from Chennai were Durai Jayakumar (61), J. Anusuya (57) and W.G. Ganapathy (63).

The bodies of 16 victims reached the airport around 4.30 p.m. on Monday. Suresh Sah’s body was found only on Monday morning.

The survivors who reached on Monday were: Jayabalan (66), Padmini (54), R. Gajendran (51), G. Valli (47), K. Thyagarajan (63), M. Pooja (6), S. Ganga (26), S. Vinodini (3), S. Durairaj (45), K. Gopal (53), K. Sivanantham (63), M. Preethi (25), R. Kumaragurunathan (31), P. Ranganathan (62) and K. Selvaraj (63).

Meanwhile, a preliminary enquiry report from the Andaman and Nicobar administration found the boat to be carrying an excess of passengers. Life jackets were available but not given to the passengers, according to the press note from the secretary (information, publicity and tourism), Andaman and Nicobar administration.

Our Kancheepuram correspondent adds: Two families that lost the senior members in their households — D. Selvaraj (64), a retired bank manager, and his wife, S. Anjalam (58), and S. Perumal (68), a landlord, and his spouse, Menal (62), a retired headmistress — were stricken with grief and said they never expected the first-ever leisure trip undertaken by their parents to end in tragedy.

“We arranged this trip for our parents as they were eager to travel by air and sea, at least once in their lifetime. But we did not think this would separate us from them forever,” said S. Harikrishnan, son of D. Selvaraj. In another family of six that undertook the trip, only two survived. Suresh Sah (33) went with his wife, Ganga, daughters, Vinothini and Darshini, and relatives, Shantha Bai and Shanthi Bai. Only Ganga and Vinothini survived.