The death toll in the boat capsize incident in Krishna River near Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh has climbed to 19 following the recovering of three more bodies this morning, an official said.
State disaster response and fire services department's director general N Satyanarayana said while two bodies were recovered by teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), another was fished out by personnel of his department.
"There is suspicion that four more persons are missing.
We are pressing scuba divers into service to trace the missing persons. Since there is lot of water movement because rescue teams are at work, the bodies, if any, could have floated away. We have intensified the operation," Satyanarayana said at the Ferry ghat.
An overloaded boat carrying 38 people capsized yesterday close to the 'Pavitra Sangamam' (confluence point of rivers Krishna and Godavari) at Ferry village near Vijayawada.Till late last night, 16 bodies were fished out.
Local fishermen rescued 15 people soon after the mishap.
The boat hit a sand mound inside the river while swerving a curve. At the same time, the passengers in it moved to one side to take a closer look at the Pavitra Harati at the Sangamam and that led to the boat capsize, police said.
Vijayawada Police Commissioner Gautam Sawang said the private boat operator did not have a valid license.
"There were no life jackets for passengers either.We have registered a criminal case against the operator and will take stern action," Sawang told reporters last night.
The police also launched a hunt for the missing driver of the boat.
Two teams each comprising 30 NDRF personnel, a 45-member team of the State Disaster Rescue Force (SDRF) and 60 members of the Disaster Response and Fire Services Department have been roped into the rescue operation.
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Deputy Chief Minister (Home) N China Rajappa, Opposition leader Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, state BJP president K Hari Babu and others yesterday expressed grief over the incident.
China Rajappa had also announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of the deceased.