Kendrapara, Jan 3 (LocalWire) The death toll in Wednesday’s boat tragedy in Kendrapara district rose to nine on Thursday morning as eight more bodies were recovered by the rescue team.
On Wednesday, the body of a 26-year-old woman was recovered.
A six-year-old girl Minu Swain, daughter of Akshya Swain, is still missing after the ill-fated boat, carrying around 56 people from village Hansina under Kujang block of the neighbouring Jagatsinghpur district, capsized on Wednesday evening in Nipania river, a tributary of Mahanadi .
Eleven people, including nine children, drowned when their picnic at the Hukitola island ended with a boat capsize.
Boatman Nirvay Swain was arrested as he was ferrying an overloaded vessel.
The deceased have been identified as Prabhati Swain (26), Ishan Dalei (14), Sushree Pallavi Swain (5), Debashish Sahoo(10), Rojalin Sahoo (14), Subhashree Swain (10), Dhanu Sahoo (10), Anu Tarai (30) and her son Sai Tara i(8) of Hasina village, said Kendrapara sub-collector Sanjaya Mishra.
Prima facie report said the boat capsized due to overloading as a fishing boat can barely carry 15 to 20 people, while there were 56 onboard.
They had gone to the Hukitola island for picnic and boarded the fishing boat to return to their village when mishap occurred mid-stream.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced an ex- gratia of Rs 4 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund (CMRF) for the next of the kin of the deceased, said Mishra.
Some fishermen have converted their fishing boats to passenger vessels to facilitate tourists to visit Hukitola Island, Light House, Agaranasi Island and deep sea to earn good money after authorities imposed a seven-month “Fishing Ban “ from Nov 1 to May 31 on the Bay of Bengal in the Gahiramatha marine sanctuary in Kendrapada district and other areas to protect the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtle, said Batighar fisherman Arjun Mandal.
“Last year, forest officials seized my fishing boat while I was fishing in the sea within the marine sanctuary. So, recently I converted my vessel to a passenger boat to carry tourists into the sea, Hukitola and other places,” said Mahendra Jana of Kharinashi village.
Meanwhile, Kendrapara sub-collector said fishing boat owners cannot ferry tourists without obtaining proper permission from Inland Water Transport office at Chandabali.
“It is illegal on the part of the fishermen to use their boats to ferry tourists as the Fisheries Act prohibits use of vessels for other purposes,” said Mishra.
“Some boat owners are ignorant of this and take tourists for joyride in the sea and rivers. We have directed the marine police and fishery officials take action against them,” he said.