Vijayawada: The 40-feet, 25-tonne private tourist boat, Sri Vasishta Punnami Royal, was salvaged from the Godavari river bed after 38 days, along with seven highly decomposed bodies trapped in the air-conditioned cabin.
The boat was salvaged from a depth of nearly 50 feet and brought to shore at Devudu Gondhi, in Katchu-luru village of Devipatnam mandal, in East Godavari district, at about 3.30 pm on Tuesday. Sri Balaji Mari-nes, a Kakinada-based private agency headed by Dharmadi Satyam, salvaged the boat in their second attempt at an operation under the supervision of B. Adinarayana, a port official. He said, “As the boat was traced about 130 metr-es away from the shore, and at a depth of between 40 to 50 feet, divers went underwater with no visibility and managed to fix an anchor and a 32-mm steel wire.”
When the wire was pulled up with the help of a heavy earth mover located on the bund, in the first attempt, a portion of the railing of the boat came off. However, the divers managed to find the propeller shaft of the boat and hooked an anchor to it.
“Another anchor was hooked to front portion of the boat as it was titled and partially buried in the riverbed. When both iron wires pulled up, the boat started moving on the river bed and was pulled out of water at the shore,” he said.
The authorities also recovered seven highly decomposed bodies from the retrieved boat. The bodies were trapped in the air-conditioned cabin of the boat. Only two bodies were intact, with clothes on, and could be identified. The rest of the bodies were not intact, had only some parts, like head, hands and trunk.
The bodies were sent to the government hospital in Rajahmundry for a post-mortem. Health authorities at the hospital secured the bodies in a freezer. They would collect DNA samples from the bodies for investigation. If family members or relatives come forward to claim the body, the authorities would conduct DNA test and hand over the body to them for last rites.
Dharmadi Satyam, head, Sri Balaji Marines, said, “We struggled lot to retrieve the boat as we faced hostile conditions like floods in the river, continuous rainfall, no visibility underwater and heavy current in the river. As we had publicly declared that we could bring out the boat, we are committed to it, despite facing hardships. We managed to get it. After locating the boat, we were confident. We roped in divers from Visakhapatnam. The divers groped in the dark with bare hands to locate the boat. They finally fixed anchors, attached iron ropes at the right place like a propeller shaft, and finally managed to pull out the boat.