Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thekkady Boat Tragedy

We were shooting a song sequence for the Malayalam film KADAKSHAM at Kootikkal Bungalow near Mundakkayam and some one came with the news that a tourist boat had capsized at the lake in Thekkady. Only when I reached back at Peermedu and switched on the Television the cruel face of fate had emerged. It was a tragedy that could have been averted if simple norms of safety were observed by the authorities concerned. One look at the boat by even a casual observer will bring doubts about its stability. It had a narrow hull and the height of the boat is too high and the centre of gravity will change very fast if some one moves on the upper deck.

The next day morning we cancelled the shooting and our team consisting of Director Sashi Paravur, Actor Suresh Gopi, Editor Venu,Production Executive Sunil Pettah and Associate Director Satheesh went to Vandi Periyar to offer solace and whatever help to the victims families. It was a heart breaking sight of the dead bodies lined upon the floor of the Periyar hospital room. Even as we were standing there more bodies were being brought followed by the cries of their near and dear.

The scene at the Primary health centre where the post mortem were conducted was still worse. There were huge crowd of onlookers going here and there.It was total chaos everywhere, the officials and police did not know what to do in a calamity of this dimension. Minister Issac Thomas was seen running around trying to bring some order. There was some one announcing over a public address system calling for the Panchayat secretary to report immediately to the reception desk. I wonder doesn't he have a mobile phone or wasn't he aware of the tragedy. Meanwhile TV Channel people were after the kith and kin of the victims trying get some newsworthy visuals. A few of the unfortunate relatives were seen seated on benches on the verandah of the building. There was no one deputed to console or to care for them.

Some one broke the lock of a room, opened it and made arrangements to seat the relatives and offered them a little privacy. Later it was announced over the loudspeakers that arrangements are being made to issue all necessary certificates from a single desk. I was wondering what will happen to our official machinary if a still bigger disaster happens. Certainly the Government should give training to all officials, police, fire, ambulance services to co-ordinate and work together.Firstly they should cordon of specific areas to keep off unwanted onlookers and proper authority should take the overall in charge of the rescue operations. Unless some one takes the leadership chaos is bound to happen.

We then proceeded to the Thekkady boat landing and managed to get inside a forest dept boat going to the site of the tragedy. Even our boat was in a dilapilated condition and was overcrowded. I was afraid of one more boat tragedy. Fortunately some of the passengers down after much persuation and we started our journey. Even as we were proceeding towards the site a rescue boat carrying another body passed by. At last we reached the site of the accident.The boat had been pulled up and navy divers were searching for more bodies.





After returning from Thekkady for a long time the images of the human tragedy haunted our memories for a long time.

May Their Souls Rest in Peace.

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