At least 22 people, including women and children, have died after a boat capsized in India’s southern Kerala state on Sunday, fire officials said, as search and rescue operations enter a second day.
The boat, which was ferrying tourists, capsized near Tuvalthiram beach in Malappuram around 7:30 p.m. local time, the district’s fire department told CNN. Officials do not know how many people were on board, but estimate the number to be around 35, it added.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, V.R. Premkumar, a senior official from Malappuram district, where the incident took place, said 10 people have been admitted to hospital while five swam ashore.
The Indian Navy has joined search and rescue operations, regional officials said Monday.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased, announcing compensation from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
“Pained by the loss of lives due to the boat mishap in Malappuram, Kerala,” a tweet from Modi’s office said Sunday. “Condolences to the bereaved families. An ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh ($2,446 USD) from PMNRF would be provided to the next of kin of each deceased.”
Kerala’s chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan is expected to visit the accident site on Monday.
On Sunday, Vijayan tweeted his condolences, saying he was “deeply saddened by the tragic loss of lives.”
At the time of the disaster India was celebrating a long weekend with Buddha Purnima (Buddha’s birthday) falling on May 5 this year.
Kerala, known for its lush forests, beaches and backwaters, is a popular tourist destination for many Indians and foreigners alike.
One of the state’s top attractions are its traditional wooden houseboats which ply the brackish lagoons and canals that crisscross much of the tropical coastline.