Four tourists from Chennai drowned as a houseboat tilted and partly sank at Punnamada in the Vembanad lake here on Saturday, police said.

The deceased, three women and a child, were part of a 61-member group that came from Chennai for outing.

The mishap occurred at the boarding point when about 30 of them rushed into a boat used as a passage to enter another boat berthed closed to it for cruising in the lake.

The boat tilted to one side as the holidayers rushed into it and most of them moved to one side of the vessel upsetting its balance, eyewitnesses said.

As the mishap happened near the boarding point, the crew of other boats berthed there immediately plunged into the water and saved most of those who entered the boat.

Those who died had got trapped in the submerged part of the boat. After taking them out, they were rushed to a hospital where they were declared dead, sources said.

“If they (tourists) had entered the boat one-by-one, this accident would not have happened. Instead, they rushed and jumped into the boat and moved to one side tilting its balance,” Johnson, an eyewitness, said.

The district administration has begun a probe into the accident and a preliminary report would be submitted to the government soon, official sources said.

The Kerala Government has made arrangements for sending the bodies of the victims home after post-mortem.

Punnamada lake is the hub of water tourism in Kerala where a large number of houseboats operate.

(This article was published on January 26, 2013)
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