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Narrow escape for 15, as boat capsizes near shore

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The boat that capsized in the sea off Elliots Beach on Sunday.
The boat that capsized in the sea off Elliots Beach on Sunday.

Staff Reporter

A case of unauthorised ferrying filed; hunt on for boat owner and four others

CHENNAI: A joy ride off Elliots Beach on Sunday evening could have turned fatal for 15 persons, including six women and three children, when the boat they were travelling by capsized not far from the shore. All of them were rescued. Police said there was no permission for boat rides in that area.

A case of unauthorised ferrying and negligence has been filed by the police. The boat owner, Manimaran, of Odai Kuppam and four others, Sriram, Rajendran, Kutiappan and Madhiazhagan, who operated it are absconding. Police have launched a manhunt for them.

It is clearly a case of illegal ferrying that put innocent people, who were just out to have some fun, at grave risk, police personnel charged. None of the passengers in the boat had any safety jackets on them.

Police sources said the accident occurred around 5.30 p.m. when the fibre boat with five fishermen and nine others was returning to the shore after it went into the sea from Odai Managar Kuppam at Besant Nagar.

Apparently, the boatmen lured the visitors with offers of a cheap ride – Rs. 30/ Rs.40 a ride. The passengers were not give life jackets or rubber floats as is the requirement for boat rides in the sea. “The ride was smooth as they left the shore and travelled up to a kilometre. When they were returning, the boat was caught in a wave and suddenly capsized, throwing all the passengers into the sea,” M. Karthikeyan, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Adyar, said. “Thankfully, this happened quite close to the shore, so local fishermen and private lifeguards on duty at the beach were able to rescue them,” he added.

According to a press release the five fishermen operating the boat helped save the passengers.

Ten passengers were taken to two private hospitals at Besant Nagar for first aid and were later discharged.

Police sources said that for a long while now, fishermen had been operating illegal boat rides from their hamlets, targeting visitors to Elliots Beach.

According to a policeman attached to the Thiruvanmiyur police station involved in the rescue efforts, illegal boat trips for the public are common on Sundays and holidays when there is a heavy turnout at the beach.

It becomes difficult for the police force to monitor the boat rides, as they are mostly operated by people from hamlets close to the beach, he added.

Speaking to The Hindu, Chennai Commissioner of Police K. Radhakrishnan said that it was a case of unauthorised ferrying by local fishermen. He promised that it would be dealt with severely. “We will take immediate action against the owner of the boat and the fishermen who operated the boat,” he said.

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