They were tourists from Tamil Nadu
: On a day when a replica of a ‘kettuvallom’ (Kerala’s traditional houseboat) was the State’s Republic Day float in New Delhi, two women tourists and their two children were killed in a boat accident here on Saturday morning.
The dead were part of a 63-member team of employees of a business firm based in Nungambakkam, Chennai, and their family members. The team was on two-day tour of the State.
The accident occurred at the Kayal Kurissadi boat jetty, where the team was to board a houseboat for a day-long trip to the backwaters.
The team reached Kochi on Saturday early morning and checked in at a hotel at Vazhakkala in the city before heading towards Alappuzha by road.
The accident occurred when the team was boarding the houseboat . Rajesh V., one of the survivors, told The Hindu that their boat was berthed by the side of another boat near the jetty and they were asked to pass through the first boat to reach their boat.
When the women and children passed along the boat berthed closer to the jetty, it started to tilt, due to the load factor. Some of the tourists were trapped inside the boat as it sank.
Locals and other boat operators, who were present at the spot, told The Hindu that the boat was berthed there for repair. When the boat tilted, the crowd panicked.
“We could rescue those who were closer to the jetty and even those on the other side of the boat. But in the panic, some of them got inside the boat and were trapped as the boat sank in no time. We tried to break a window that remained above water level and pulled some out, but the two women and children could not make it,” said Kunjumon, one of the boat workers who was involved in the rescue operations.
The dead were identified as Sudheshini, 26, wife of Pandidurai from Kancheepuram district, and her five-year-old daughter, Ilakkya, and Rohini, 32, wife of Manoj from T. Nagar, Chennai, and her daughter, Sushmita. 14.
All arrangements were made to take the bodies to Chennai in mobile freezers and an Air-bus was arranged for rest of the team to accompany them.