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Overcrowded Indian boat may have hit rock; 21 dead

January 27, 2014

NEW DELHI (AP) — An overcrowded tourist boat that capsized off India’s remote Andaman and Nicobar islands, killing at least 21 people, may have hit a rock before it went down, police said Monday.

Most of the victims drowned when the boat capsized Sunday about 300 feet (100 yards) from shore off the string of tropical Indian Ocean islands, according to Mohammed Rafique, a police officer in Port Blair.

Rescuers pulled 29 survivors out of the water and were still searching for one missing person. Authorities launched an investigation into the accident, including reports that there were no life jackets on board and that the vessel’s capacity was about 25 people but it was carrying 50, according to government officials.

Police detained three people, including the boat’s owner, according to unidentified officials cited by the Press Trust of India news agency.

The bodies of the victims were being returned to their home states in India, PTI reported.

India’s president released a statement expressing “shock and grief” over the accident.

Boating accidents are common in India because many ferries are poorly built and are often overcrowded, and there is little regard for safety regulations.

Update hourly