The incident occurred in the coastal town of Tanur in the Malapuram district of Kerala state, where rescue operations are underway.
At least 22 people were killed when a double-decker boat capsized near the coastal town of Tanur in the Malapuram district of southern India’s Kerala state, local authorities said.
Abdul Nazar, Junior Superintendent of Malappuram district, said the boat, carrying about 40 incoming passengers, capsized at around 7pm local time (1330GMT) on Sunday due to overcrowding.
“We found 22 bodies, including women and children. Rescue operations are still ongoing,” Malappuram’s senior fire officer Moosa Vadakkethil said on Monday.
It is not yet clear what caused the cruise ship to capsize near Thooval Theeram Beach in Tanur.
Malapuram boat accident | Death toll rises to 22. The exact number of people traveling by boat could not be confirmed. The CM will be here around 9:30am. A search operation is in progress. NDRF, fire and scuba diving teams are conducting search operations. Navy’s… https://t.co/M2qZ2zAhCs pic.twitter.com/Bn7VjoaU23
— Arnie (@ANI) May 8, 2023
The state’s Sports and Fisheries Minister V Abdurahiman, who helped coordinate the rescue effort, said most of the victims were children during the school holidays.
Abdurahiman told reporters Sunday night that the death toll could rise as the boat is stuck in muddy water and is being pulled out to rescue those trapped inside.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet: “Painful over loss of life due to boat accident in Malapuram, Kerala.”
The state’s chief minister, who will visit the area later on Monday, tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims and urged regional authorities to monitor rescue efforts.
Monday has been declared an official day of mourning, the Press Trust of India news agency quoted a government statement as saying.
According to Indian media reports, survivors said the boat was overcrowded and most passengers did not have safety life jackets. The ship also reportedly did not have a safety certificate, the NDTV website said in its report.
Local reports said police had filed a manslaughter case against the owner of the boat.
Boating accidents are common in India, where many boats are overcrowded and have inadequate safety equipment.
In September 2020, 12 people drowned when a tourist boat capsized on the flooded Godavari River in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
In May 2018, a boat capsized in the same area, killing 30 people.