Several people feared dead after tourist ferry capsizes in Andhra

Initial reports say that the death toll has already reached 26 and nine bodies have been recovered

Search and rescue operation is still on.

According to reports, the boat, which had 38 people on board, overturned when trying to manoeuvre towards Pavitra Sangamam after leaving the ferry. Several teams of National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) were rushed to the spot to rescue people.

The incident occurred around 5.45 PM when a private tourism boat was making a trip from Punnami Ghat, Bhavanipuram, to Pavitra Sangamam, Ferry village, the official said.

The NDRF said 20 people have been rescued alive so far.

The tourists, majority hailing from Ongole town in Prakasam district of the state, were returning to Pavitra Sangam for performing some religious rituals at the end of their day-long trip to Bhavani Island.

Most of the passengers were said to be members of the Ongole Walkers Club in Prakasam district while some were from Nellore who were on a visit to Vijayawada. He announced Rs 8 lakh compensation each to the families of the deceased.

Conflicting versions are emerging on the cause of the accident.

Survivors said they boarded the private boat as the boats of the Tourism Department were not available. However, locals allege that many boats do not have sufficient number of life jackets and carry more passengers than their sanctioned capacity. YSR Congress Party President YS Jaganmohan Reddy also expressed his grief, and said that the official machinery should speed up the rescue operation.

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