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Kerala: Driver of the capsized boat arrested

October 05, 2009 11:28 IST
The police on Monday arrested Victor Samuel, driver of the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation boat that capsized in Thekkadi lake killing 45 tourists on board.

The driver would be presented at the Peerumedu court on Monday. The police have registered an FIR with Victor Samuel as first accused with charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. In his statement before the police he had said that the accident occurred as the boat was tilted suddenly to the right side.

The Crime Branch Superintendent of Police P A Valsan, who is in charge of the investigation, told that the carelessness of the driver and the additional 12 passengers in the boat were the reason for the boat capsizing in the lake.

The crime branch team has found that there were 12 extra passengers in the boat who were pushed into it by tour operators and certain lower rung officials of KTDC . According to a source in the KTDC in Thekkadi, there are several tour operators who collude with some lower level officials in the KTDC to push in passengers beyond the capacity of the boat.

The assistant to the driver Aneesh and some surviving passengers have also corroborated this version and these 12 extra passengers were provided with extra chairs in the top floor of the boat.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala has accused the state government's callous attitude to be the reason for the boat tragedy in Thekkadi.

The Member of Parliament from Idukki told mediapersons that the state government should immediately set up a judicial inquiry into the reasons for the boat tragedy.

Arun Lakshman in Thiruvananthapuram