Taleep, 62, and his wife Nishreen, 54, were sitting on the upper deck of Jalakanyaka, the ill-fated boat, when it tilted to the right just before it sunk in the Mullaperiyar lake.

The couple soon jumped into the lake and swam to safety. They are from Grand Road in Mumbai and were on a vacation arranged by a travel agency. Mr. Taleep said that the boat was too narrow and the lack of safety measures and the bad condition of the boat had led to the mishap.

Mr. Taleep told The Hindu that they were among nearly 20 people on the deck and that their preference to occupy the upper deck for the cruise had proved to be lucky. He, however, maintained that no precautionary measures had been taken by the authorities, and that they were not aware who owns the boat, as it was a conducted tour arranged by a travel agency.

Mr. Taleep says nobody had given them any guidelines or precautionary measures to be taken during the cruise, which was for more than 30 minutes from the boarding point.

The Jalakanyaka, launched by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) nearly three months back, was in addition to a new boat launched by the Forest Department in the Mullaperiyar Lake to reduce the heavy rush during the tourist season.

Though the construction of the boat was started a year ago, it could be launched in the lake only this year after a trial-run and a fitness certificate was issued by the authorities.

A KTDC official said that travellers had been advised against moving suddenly to one side of the boat while looking out for wild animals. The tourists were asked to remain seated, and that the boat would be steered and stopped so that everyone would get a glimpse of the wild animals.

Another survivor, Sameer, swam to safety and was ferried to the shore on board a speed boat.

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