Boat tragedy toll hits 15; Govt announces solatium

Madurai, Dec 28: The death toll in the boat tragedy in Ramathapuram rose to 15 on Monday after two more bodies were recovered. Of the 20 persons who travelled in the boat that capsized off the coast of Periyapattinam on Sunday, five are yet to be accounted for. The villagers were going on a picnic to a protected and prohibited island when the accident happened.

Journalists following up on the story were abused by angry villagers, who found some of the reports on the tragedy inaccurate. They roughed up the crew of a local TV station and barred photographers from going into the sea.

Relatives of the victims alleged that while they were the ones who spearheaded the rescue, media reports said that it was the Coast Guard that helped in the operations. If the Coast Guard had indeed come on time, perhaps more lives could have been saved, the villagers said.

Later, Keelakarai DSP Perumal Ramanujam and other officials managed to pacify the villagers. Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has announced a solatium of 1 lakh each for the families.

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