Andhra boat tragedy: Stuck underwater for a month, 7 bodies recovered from Godavari

Sudarshan and 11 members from his family have been waiting at Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh for the past three days. They have been waiting to find the mortal remains of Ramyasri, a sub-engineer at TRANSCO from Warangal and Sudarshan's daughter. Ramyasri was among 77 people who were thrown into the Godavari river on September 15 as their boat capsized. Though 38 bodies were recovered, the remains of 13 people including Ramyasri were still missing.

Thirty seven days after the tragic boat accident, the sunken vessel named Royal Vasishta was extracted on Tuesday. Police have confirmed that seven dead bodies have been recovered from the boat so far and Ramyasri's family is hoping that she is one among those.

Four of her relatives went to the location of the boat extraction and had been waiting for the authorities to bring the boat to the surface. "Though it's been more than a month, our parents have not been able to process the loss. We are hoping that seeing her one last time will give them closure," her brother told the local media.

However, the wait is set to become longer as the process of identifying the remains will take time.

The bodies, which had remained in the water for more than 35 days, have become disfigured and nearly impossible to identify, police said. “We have found seven bodies so far. There might be a child’s body as well. The bodies are highly disfigured, and in some cases we’ve only found the partial body. The only chance we have at identifying the bodies is to perform a DNA test,” East Godavari SP Adnan Nayeem Asmi said, adding that some of the bodies have only been found in parts.

On September 15, the boat had been ferrying 77 people through the Papikondalu towards Bhadrachalam when it had capsized. While 26 tourists were rescued by villagers, the bodies of 38 others were retrieved later by rescue teams. As many as 13 people were still missing and their bodies were believed to be stuck in the sunken boat.

Workers of Balaji Marines had been working on salvaging the boat from the water at Kachuluru village in Devipatnam mandal of East Godavari district. On Sunday, five scuba divers were reportedly summoned by the firm to help them with the operation. A headless body was found floating near the location of the sunken boat on Sunday. However, police have said that it is not yet clear whether the body belonged to one of the victims of the boat accident.

The company had failed in its first attempt to pull out the boat earlier this month. The operation was called off after three days due to heavy flow of water. As the flood waters began to recede, the team of workers led by Dharmadi Satyam resumed the operation a week ago. The firm had been using the services of expert swimmers, boats, rafts, 1,500 metres of iron cable and hooks for the salvage operation.

The boat owner and operator were arrested for operating the vessel despite a ban due to the floods. The state government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident, and has also set up a special committee headed by Special Chief Secretary (Irrigation) to investigate the accident. The Revenue Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary of Tourism, Additional DG of Law and Order and Collector of East Godavari are the other members on the committee.