At least 22 killed as tourist boat capsizes in southern India

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May 8 (UPI) — Authorities in the southern Indian state of Kerala were continuing to search for survivors Monday after a tourist boat capsized killing at least 22 people, many of them women and children.

The vessel overturned off Tuvalthiram beach in Malappuram at dusk on Sunday evening, according to the local fire department, which estimated there were about 35 people on board.

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Five people escaped by swimming to shore while another 10 were hospitalized, senior India Administrative Service official V.R. Premkumar told reporters.

Regional authorities said the Indian Navy was expected to join National Disaster Response Force fire and scuba diving teams already at the scene while Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent his condolences to the families of the dead and promised an interim compensation payment of $2,446 to next of kin from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

Announcing a judicial inquiry into the tragedy, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan visited survivors being treated in Taluk Hospital in Tirurangadi in Malappuram district Monday amid reports that the boat was overloaded and was supposed to have finished for the day when the incident occurred at about 7:30 p.m. local time.

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Because it was a Sunday when schools are closed, many of the passengers were children, according to local sources.

Boating capsizes are a fairly regular occurrence in India due to the fact regulations covering licensing, maintenance, equipment such as life jackets, safe operation, and capacity are often not adhered to or enforced

Andhra Pradesh tourism minister Avanthi Srinivas pledged to crack down on unauthorized boats after 12 people died when a tourist boat carrying 60 people capsized on the Godavari River that was operating without a license.

A boat carrying more than 40 passengers returning from a Hindu festival capsized on the Ganges River in 2017 in the northeastern city of Patna in Bihar state killing at least 24 people.