Kakinada, Sep 20: The death toll in the Royal Vasista boat capsized at Kachhuluru -Mandam in river Godavari in Andhra Pradesh rose to 36 with one more body of a woman retrieved near Maddurulanka on Friday.
Conflicting versions were reported on the exact number of those on board of ill fated boat at the time of capsize.
Minister for Agriculture has put the figure as 77 and those survived as 26, bodies recovered as 35 and still missing as 16. But former Amalapuram MP Harsha Humar reiterated his charge that the total number of people on board at the time of accident was 93 and it was allowed to sail at the behest of the Tourism Minister Avanti Srinivas.
He also charged that a big mafia was behind the tourism boat operations and many of the officials from Irrigation, forest and tourism departments were owning the boats under Benami. The boat salvaging operations were almost put off due to adverse weather conditions .
Expert teams from Bombay who made unsuccessful attempts to pull out the boat have announced that unless the flood recedes by at least 100 feet, it would be very difficult to retrieve the boat which is resting on the river bed at a depth of 310 feet.
The formation of severe whirlpools and strong undercurrents posed a challenge for the experts in carrying out the salvaging operations .They hoped that the severity of the undercurrents and whirlpool would come down once the flood recedes.
Meanwhile the Rampachodavarm police have arrested three owners of the ill fated boat Royal Vasista- Kodigudla Venkata Ramana, Yalla Prabhavati and Achyut Ramani for allowing the boat to operate without permission leading to the major tragedy claiming lives nearly fifty people.
The ASP Rampachodavaram Vakul Zindal has announced the arrest of these three of whom two are women at a press conference. He said they were being produced before the court for remanding them to judicial custody. (UNI)