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Eleven drown in boat tragedy

At least 11 persons were drowned and seven went missing after a boat carrying a group of people capsized in the sea off the Katukurunda coast yesterday morning.

Disaster Management Centre Director General L S Senadheera told the Daily News yesterday noon that 29 persons, who were rescued, were admitted to Kalutara and Beruwala hospitals, and the condition of two of them was critical.

A boat carrying around 40 persons including children had departed from Beruwala to Kalutara to attend a Church feast.

“About 7 to 8 fishing boats had departed to attend this event.

None of the people who were in those boats had been wearing life jackets. “As one boat capsized, the other boats had returned rescuing some of the people. We have information that some of the people were entangled in the fishing nets which were in the boat.

We cannot keep hopes about their lives, but a special operation has been launched to turn the boat into position. Two vessels were sent for this purpose and a helicopter has been deployed for search operations. So far we recovered 11 bodies,” he said. Altogether, 21 boats had departed from Beruwala carrying a large number of people to attend the religious event.

The boat named ‘Mayura Putha’ which capsized had been the largest among the fleet and it had carried only passengers sans any fishing gear.

It is said that the boat had been overloaded and the boatman had brushed aside suggestions to unload some of the passengers.

First, the devotees had gone to St. Lazarus’s Church and was then heading towards the Holy Cross Church in Kalutara when the tragedy occurred.

It had been about 50 km from the shore at the time.

The Navy and the Air Force had launched a search operation to rescue the missing.

Meanwhile, the Police have launched an investigation into the incident.

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