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Memories stay adrift on anniversary of Thekkady boat tragedy

K.S. Sudhi

— A file photo

Woe:The accident-spot in the Mullaperiyar lake in Thekkady.

KOCHI: A silent prayer will be organised on Thursday to remember the victims of the September 30, 2009 Thekkady boat tragedy.

The prayer will be at 7.15 a.m., minutes before the first tourist boat leaves the landing bay on the day.

As many as 45 tourists were killed when Jalakanyaka, a boat of the Kerala Tourism Department, capsized in the lake inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR).

Forest Department personnel and the members of the various Eco Development Committees will assemble at the boat-landing centre for the prayer meet.

“Many people wished not to be reminded of the tragedy. Many are trying to overcome the trauma. Hence, we have planned a silent prayer,” PTR Deputy Director Sanjayan Kumar said.

Jalakanyaka had been pulled onshore and towed away from public gaze, he said.

The Forest authorities are also planning to send support letters to the relatives of the victims on the anniversary of the accident.

Boating is a key attraction at the reserve. Tourists are instructed to wear life jackets on board. Many passengers are reluctant do so, he said.

Adequate number of jackets is provided. Orders will be placed for more soon, Mr. Kumar said.

The relatives of all the victims had collected the compensation announced by the State government.

The compensation for others could not be disbursed as the relatives could not produce the legal heir certificates, an official of the Idukki district administration said.

Vital data

For Peter Ryan, who was on board another vessel moving close to Jalakanyaka, feels ‘it took place a short while ago.'

“We will always remember sitting with a couple in the hotel the morning, hoping against hope that their children would survive.

The bodies were found two days later, Mr. Rayan said in an e-mail.

“I also remember the disappointment of the local police personnel and other rescue workers. I wanted to give a statement but none wanted to take it. I wonder to this day how vital data had not been recorded and documented for future use because the police failed to take statements from guests in local hotels,” he said.

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