When the survivors of the Alappuzha boat accident alighted from red Volvo bus on Saravana Street in T. Nagar, relatives rushed to embrace them.
An elderly woman was seen patting her daughter-in-law in relief. Some of the survivors were too shocked to comment on the issue.
“Many of them have not yet come to terms with the incident,” said a relative of a survivor.
Some survivors were helping the others to carry their luggage out from the bus. Among them was P. Saravanan, a tall man dressed in a green T-shirt and jeans. He recalls the accident as a horrible experience.
“We were moving from one boat into the houseboat. Hardly 15 of them had got in when the boat capsized,” he said.
He said the staff members in the boat were insisting on them removing their footwear before getting into the boat. “They did not ensure that tourists got in one after the other. After the boat capsized, I broke the window panes and got up. Then I saved the others,” said Sarvanan.
Honest Raj, another survivor, said the main cause for the accident was that the boats were not tied properly.
“The Kerala government officials were keen on sending us back to Chennai. However, they helped us reach safely,” he said.
Sources from the Kerala police said that the tragedy was one that was waiting to happen.
“Around 14 boats have capsized this year alone. But it never comes out. Many boats and drivers don’t have licences. There are no life guards on the boats,” said the source.
A young entrepreneur from St. Thomas Mount, who preferred not to be named, had hired a houseboat at the same Punnamada spot in Alappuzha.
He said houseboat owners threw safety norms to the wind during the peak tourist season and during vacations, when tourists, especially from other States, flock to the place.
According to him, tourists were forced to rush from one houseboat to another to save time and the houseboats would often tilt to one side.