Kumarakom: This popular tourist destination was witness to a tragedy exactly 19 years ago as a heavily loaded passenger boat capsized in Vembanad Lake. Thambi, 60 years now, has been a constant presence at the nearby boat jetty, then and even now. He was one of the few who plunged into rescue operations and managed to save a few lives.
The A53 boat of the Kerala Water Transport department that left from Muhamma for Kumarakom, capsized in the Vembanad backwaters on the morning of July 27, 2002. On coming to know of the accident, Thambi rushed to the spot in a boat and was able to save several lives.
The tragic scenes of the accident are still fresh in Thambi's mind.
Thambi knew a lot of people who travelled in the boat to Kumarakom from Muhamma. And therefore, several of the accident victims were familiar to him. Many of the survivors and the deceased were taken to the shore in boats.
As many as 29 people, including 15 women and a nine-month-old baby, died in the mishap. People on their way to appear in a PSC exam were also among the deceased.
Most of the passengers could be saved due to the prompt rescue operations carried out by the local people in Kumarakom.
A memorial was constructed at a cost of Rs 50 lakh in recognition of their efforts. But today the memorial is left neglected and reduced to a mere place for the birds to perch.
The Kumarakom Panchayat will hold a commemorative function on Tuesday and floral tributes will be paid.
There was no boat service during the last anniversary of the tragedy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year the service will be available.