At least 22 people have died after a double-decker boat capsized off the coastal town of Tanur in the Malappuram district of India’s southern state of Kerala, local authorities said.

The boat, which was carrying about 40 inbound passengers, overturned at about 7pm local time (13:30 GMT) on Sunday evening as it was overcrowded, said Abdul Nazar, Malappuram district’s junior superintendent of police.

“We have recovered 22 bodies, which include women and children. The rescue operation is still ongoing,” Moosa Vadakkethil, a senior fire official in Malappuram, said on Monday.

It was not clear what caused the tourist boat to overturn near Thooval Theeram beach in Tanur.

The state’s sports and fisheries minister V Abdurahiman, who was helping to coordinate rescue efforts, said most of the victims were children on school holidays.

The death toll was likely to rise as the boat was stuck in muddy waters and was being pulled out to rescue those trapped inside, Abdurahiman told reporters on Sunday night.

Survivors alleged the boat was overcrowded, with most passengers not having safety life jackets, according to Indian media reports. The boat reportedly did not have a safety certificate either, the NDTV website said in its report.

Police have registered a case for culpable homicide against the boat’s owner, local reports said.

Source: Aljazeera

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