At least eight students -- six boys and two girls -- are feared dead in yet another boat capsize in Kerala's Malappuram district. Rescue operations are on in full swing.
The condition of two students is critical, said sources from the local Areekode taluk hospital.
According to reports, there were as many as 90 students -- from the Sainulabdeen higher secondary school at Areekode -- in the boat when the accident took place.
However, district officials said the death toll could go higher as they were not certain about the number of students that were on the boat.
The Member of Legislative Assembly from Malappuram, Abdurahiman, told rediff.com that the tragedy occurred at around 4.30 pm when the students were returning home by boat after school.
Many students here prefer boat rides to reach homes to avoid the rush in state buses.
Sources told rediff.com that the students stood up in the boat while it was on Chaliyar River and this made the boat lose balance and topple.
Aneesh, a local worker who was actively involved in the rescue operations, said the Areekode Panchayat did not check if boats operated by private individuals were safe for rides, despite the fact that the Chaliyar River has regular undercurrents.
Most of the students who were on the boat lived along the banks of the river and knew swimming, due to which the death toll was not high, he added.
Kerala Education Minister M A Baby, who was on his way to the accident site, said the government was trying to save as many lives as possible with quick rescue operations
The victims include: Koyiba, Thoufeek, Shameema, Shihab, Siraj, Thuhail, Mushik, Shahidali. Sources in the home ministers' office said fire force and police machinery had already been deployed in the area. However, the search operations would be hit due to the reduced visibility, owing to rains and cloudy atmosphere.Health Minister P K Sreemathy has ordered the Kozhikode Medical College authorities and the Areekode hospital authorities to be geared up to giving medical aid to the victims.