Kerala

Tourists escape unhurt as houseboat catches fire in Kerala

16 people, including 13 tourists, were in the boat

Sixteen people, including 13 tourists and three crew, had a miraculous escape on Thursday after a houseboat they were cruising caught fire near Pathiramanal Island in Vembanad Lake around 1.15 p.m.

The Muhamma police said the passengers and the crew escaped unhurt. Six women, two babies, a four-year-old boy, and four men from Kannur set off from Kumarakom in a double-decker houseboat named Oceana around 11.30 a.m. When the boat reached Pathiramanal, a blaze started in the kitchen and soon spread to other parts of the boat.

Sandbars to the rescue

Officials said the boat caught fire in an area with sandbars. “The passengers and the crew jumped onto a sandbar where water level was 5 ft. This helped them save their lives,” said an official.

The crew of S-54, a passenger boat of the State Water Transport Department that was conducting service from Muhamma to Kumarakom, were the first to reach the spot.

The crew helped to shift some of the passengers, including the infants. Though a speed boat also reached the spot, it sank in the lake.

Later, another boat was sent and the stranded passengers were transported to the Muhamma boat jetty and then to the Alappuzha guest house.

Sources said the houseboat had been operating without mandatory licences.

Meanwhile, the Ports Department, the licensing authority, has launched a probe into the incident.

“We have launched a probe. We are yet to ascertain the cause of the incident. The blaze may have been caused by LPG leak or short circuit,” Alappuzha port officer Capt. Hari Achutha Warrier told The Hindu.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 7:59:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/tourists-escape-unhurt-as-houseboat-catches-fire/article30637233.ece

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