2ND LEAD (UPDATE)

3 boats capsize, 14 feared dead in Batticaloa

[TamilNet, Friday, 15 December 2006, 07:34 GMT]
Three of seven boats with Vahari Internally Displaced Persons leaving from Vaharai to Valaichenai Friday around 4:30 a.m capsized due to rough seas and overloading. Only two of the boats reached Valaichenai jetty safely while two boats are still missing. Five bodies were recovered near Valaichenai jetty where the third boat turned over and four persons including a 3 days old infant and a boy were saved. The first boat capsized within a short distance from Vaharai jetty at the start of the journey and the second boat drowned at mid sea between Vaharai and Valaichenai, sources from the region said.

Batticaloa ICRC and Valaichenai hospital staff are engaged in a search for the missing boats.

The boats, with a capacity to take only 10 persons each, were carrying more than that number in each boat.

The choppy weather and rough seas coupled with over weight caused the boats to capsize, sources said.

Two women and a boy drowned dead and four seriously wounded where the first boat capsized near Vaharai jetty.

The dead women were identified as Konalingam Kalapavanam, 45 and Sinnathurai Kunarathinam, 23. The boy was identified as Vivekananthan Sujitharan, 10. The three dead are IDPs from Kadatkaraichenai and harbour area in Trincomalee.

At Valaichenai jetty, four dead bodies have been recovered and seven seriously injured when the third boat capsized.

The four dead, all children of one family, are identified as Ananandaraja Jothy, 24, Ananandarajah Veni, 17, Ananandarajah Meena, 10 and 6 months old Ananandarajah Seran , all IDPs from Kattaiparichan in Trincomalee district.

The continuous shelling by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) on the temporary settlements of IDPs located in Vaharai, in addition to the acute lack of food and medicine, were the factors which made the Vaharai IDPs to flee Vaharai. The SLA ban on using the A15, the only land route to Vaharai, drove them to brave the seas risking their lives.

The SLA at Mankerny has blocked the A15 since mid October.


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