Rajahmundry : , Oct 22 (IANS) Thirty seven days after a private boat ferrying 77 persons sank in Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh, a search team on Tuesday retrieved the badly-mangled vessel with the highly-decomposed bodies.
A 40-member-strong team including personnel from Kakinada port and scuba divers succeeded in finally pulling out Royal Vasista near Kachuluru village in East Godavari district.
Rescue workers were in the process of retrieving the bodies, which have decayed beyond recognition. The number of bodies stuck in the boat could not be ascertained immediately.
The boat, ferrying 77 persons to tourism spot Papikondalu, capsized near Kachuluru village on September 15. While 26 tourists were rescued by villagers, the bodies of 38 others were retrieved later. Another body was found two days ago. A total of 12 people were missing.
It took more than 20 days for the search team to pull out the vessel with the help of cranes. Officials said it was slowly breaking as few parts had surfaced last week. A portion of the boat was pulled out on Monday.
The boat was spotted at a depth of 215 feet but rains and heavy flow of water had hampered the salvage operation. Braving the bad weather, the team led by Dharmadi Satyam had been working relentlessly for last few days to retrieve the vessel and bring it to the shore.
The team including expert swimmers used heavy machinery including cranes, iron cable, country boats, motor boats and punts.
The state government has already ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident. The boat owner and operator were arrested for operating the boat despite ban on boat operations in the floods.