Bad weather conditions here have hampered search and rescue operations for survivors of the boat tragedy, which continued on Thursday.
The search and rescue operations were led by police, forest and fire force officials. Divers from the Indian Navy also conducted a search in the accident spot and nearby areas in the reservoir this morning. A helicopter was also pressed into service.
Locals and tribal folk from areas close to the accident were the first to undertake rescue operations. The weather was bad when the accident occurred by 5 p.m. on Tuesday and resulted in the high toll. Moreover the mishap happened nearly seven km from the boat-landing station and there was no speed boat nearby.
Tourists allege that no steps had been taken to trace the boat in distress though the Forest Department and the KTDC have seven boats to carry tourists in the lake. There was also some delay in commencing rescue operations. The search became difficult with poor light on Tuesday and rains hampering the rescue work.
A police official said that though a team was immediately sent to the accident spot after they got information, there was no feedback form the team as the accident spot was out of mobile coverage area.
The rain continued on Thursday through the rescue operations. Nine bodies were fished out on Thursday and it was feared that there were more victims trapped beneath the ill-fated boat. Though it was confirmed that 84 persons were on the boat — based on the number of tickets issued by the KTDC — numbers would be higher since children below the age of five were not issued tickets. Tour operators and officials were also not included in the count.
BAD CONDITION OF BOATS
Though the ill-fated boat was put into services along with another boat of the Forest Department only recently, the other boats are in bad shape with damaged seats and rusted iron walls. Additional seats are usually installed to accommodate more tourists. There are allegations that the ill-fated two decked boat was overloaded. “There is no monitoring mechanism for checking whether a boat carries tourists more than its capacity,” said a tour operator. He added that foreigners were charged heavily for the trip and concerns about comfort and safety were ignored.