Toll climbs to 36 in Kerala boat tragedy, judicial inquiry ordered

The tragedy occurred when the state-run double decker boat ‘Jalakanyaka’ carrying 74 tourists tilted after several tourists moved to one side on sighting elephants in the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary on the banks of the lake yesterday. A team of rescuers which included divers extricated 36 bodies from the partly submerged boat, officials said. The toll is likely to go up as some more people are yet to be traced, they said, adding, the search operation continued in the morning hours. A judicial enquiry would be held into the mishap, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan announced. The service of a Kerala High Court sitting judge would be sought for the probe, Achuthanandan told reporters here. He announced a solatium of Rs five lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and said state authorities will ensure that bodies were transported quickly back to the families of the victims.