In this photo taken on May 7, 2023, people carry out rescue operation at the site of a boat accident in Tanur, in Malappuram district of India's Kerala state. (PHOTO / AFP)
NEW DELHI – At least 21 people, most of them school children, died after a houseboat capsized in India's southern state of Kerala late Sunday evening, local police confirmed early on Monday.
The accident occurred off the coastal town of Tanur in Kerala's Malappuram district at around 7 pm local time on Sunday. The exact cause of the accident is not known yet, while Abdul Nazar, Malappuram district's junior superintendent of police, said the boat, which was carrying about 40 inbound passengers, overturned as it was overcrowded.
An ex-gratia of 200,000 Indian rupees (around $2,447) from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund would be provided to the next of kin of each deceased, tweeted the prime minister
It was not immediately clear exactly how many more people had died, the police office officer said, adding that about 10 passengers were currently being treated in various hospitals and many had been sent back after first aid.
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Most of the deceased were children who had come for a ride amid ongoing school vacations, the Press Trust of India quoted Kerala Sports Minister V Abdurahiman as saying.
V Abdurahiman said the death toll was likely to rise as the boat was stuck in muddy waters and was being pulled out to rescue those trapped inside.
Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of India Droupadi Murmu expressed grief at the accident and sent condolences to the bereaved families.
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"Pained by the loss of lives due to the boat mishap in Malappuram, Kerala," Modi said in a tweet.
An ex-gratia of 200,000 Indian rupees (around $2,447) from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund would be provided to the next of kin of each deceased, tweeted the prime minister.