At least 22 people, including children, lost their lives when a double-decker tourist boat capsized in an estuary in Malappuram, in the southern Indian state of Kerala, on Sunday night.1
The boat reportedly capsized due to overcrowding — allegedly carrying about 50 tourists, or double its capacity.2
The death toll is likely to rise as India's National Disaster Response Force and the Indian Coast Guard personnel were engaged in rescue and expecting to recover more dead bodies trapped inside the boat after pulling it ashore from the muddy waters of the Poorappuzha River.3
The state's sports and fisheries minister V Abdurahiman said most of the victims were children on school holidays, adding that at least four people who were taken to the hospital are in critical condition.4
Meanwhile, the Malappuram police on Monday registered a case of culpable homicide against the owner of the boat — who has reportedly gone missing — and are investigating whether the boat had a proper permit.2
While the Kerala government has announced compensation to the families of the victims, PM Narendra Modi released ₹200K [about $2.5K] from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund to the next of kin of each of the deceased.5
Narrative A, as provided by New York Times. Though Kerala is known for its beaches and backwaters and is a popular tourist destination for Indians and foreigners alike, its boats are often overcrowded, poorly maintained, and lack safety equipment. Since the boat service in Malappuram had started only a few months ago as part of a state government initiative, officials must be held accountable for lax regulations and implementation of safety rules.
Narrative B, as provided by NDTV. Apart from the state government, the onus of the disaster lies on the boat owner as the boat allegedly did not have a safety certificate, did not have enough life jackets, and was not permitted to operate that late in the day. If the ferry owners continue to blatantly break security and safety rules, such tragedies will, unfortunately, continue to reoccur.