A double-decker boat carrying more than 30 tourists capsized off a beach in southern India on Sunday night, leaving at least 22 dead including children, officials said.
The cause of the capsize was not immediately clear but an investigation was launched.
The incident happened in Tanur, a coastal town in Kerala’s Malappuram district. Rescue and relief operations are underway.
Dozens of people searched for survivors in and around the vessel, some using ropes to stabilize the half-submerged boat and others who dove into the water to check the windows. Local law enforcement officer Adbul Nazar said the rescue teams were expecting to recover more bodies from the boat.
At least four people were sent to hospital in critical condition, according to the Press Trust of India. Local publication Onmanorama reported that 11 people from one family, including three children, had died in the accident.
Kerala’s Sports and Fisheries Minister V Abdurahiman, who is coordinating rescue efforts, said the children were on school holiday.
Pinarayi Vijayan, the state’s chief minister tweeted his condolences on the social media platform. He is scheduled to visit the grieved on Monday.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Narendra Modi said victims’ families would receive compensation.
“Saddened by the loss of life in the boat accident at Malappuram in Kerala. Condolences to the families of the deceased. The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund will pay 200,000 rupees (roughly $2,500 or €2,200) to the next of kin of each person killed in the calamity,” he wrote on Twitter.
Survivors of the incident told local media that most passengers were not wearing a life jacket; Indian government guidelines call for them to be issued.
Boating accidents are common in India where vessels are often overcrowded, poorly maintained or lacking adequate safety equipment.
In September 2019, a dozen passengers drowned when a sightseeing boat capsized on the Godavari river in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. A year later, 11 people including women and children drowned after a boat capsized in the Chambal river in Kota, Rajasthan.