There has been a deadly tourism nightmare in a remote island paradise. 21 visitors dead, more injured, after a tourist cruise boat capsized off the coast of Andaman and Nicobar islands on Sunday, leaving 21 people dead, an official and reports said.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a group of islands at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, and are a Union Territory of India.
The territory is 150 km (93 mi) north of Aceh in Indonesia and separated from Thailand and Burma by the Andaman Sea. It comprises two island groups, the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands, separated by the 10°N parallel, with the Andamans to the north of this latitude, and the Nicobars to the south. The Andaman Sea lies to the east and the Bay of Bengal to the west.
The territory’s capital is the Andamanese town of Port Blair. The total land area of the territory is approximately 8,073 km2 (3,117 sq mi). The capital of Nicobar Islands is Car Nicobar also known as Malacca.
The private boat was carrying 43 tourists, believed to be Indians, when it sank between the popular spots of Ross Island and North Bay near Port Blair, the capital of the islands, the Indian government and a local official said.
Some 13 people were pulled from the water following the accident late on Sunday afternoon, and were taken to a hospital in Port Blair, with “several of them seriously injured”, an official there said.
“The bodies have also been taken to the same hospital,” the unnamed official in the control room set up after the accident told this news agency by phone.
Rescue operations were underway with fears for at least another nine people still missing who may be trapped in the now submerged vessel, according to sources.
The Aqua Marine was carrying a large group of tourists from Kanchipuram in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu, the Port Blair official said. However, authorities were canvassing the hotels in Port Blair to confirm all of the tourists who were on board the boat, the official added.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed shock over the tragedy and “condoled the loss of lives,” in a statement, without confirming the number of people killed.