3 arrested over fatal ferry accident in Kinniya
COLOMBO – The Sri Lankan police on Wednesday (24) arrested three people over the ferry tragedy which killed six people, including 4 children, and seriously injured 14 others a day earlier.
According to a police official, the owner of the ferry and two ferry operators were taken into custody a day after the ferry, carrying 22 people including school students, capsized when crossing a waterway in east Sri Lanka’s town of Kinniya.
Immediate search operations were launched by navy divers on Tuesday (23) and six bodies, including those of four children, were recovered.
As many as 14 people have so far been rescued and divers are searching for two more missing.
The injured are receiving treatment at nearby state hospitals.
The police said that the ferry capsized due to overcrowding. Eyewitnesses said that the bridge over the waterway was damaged which was why people had to use the ferry.
Meanwhile, Parliament heated up with a debate on the ferry tragedy, with State Minister Nimal Lansa, who had laid the foundation stone to a proposed new bridge across the Kinniya lagoon last year, calling for the resignation of the Chairman of Kinniya Urban Council (UC), for illegally giving permission to run a ferry across the lagoon.
Alleging the UC chairman is a relative of Sri Lanka Muslim Council (SLMC) MP Imran Maharoof, Lansa claimed the businessman who had been allowed to run the ferry service to be a member of the SLMC and an associate of Maharoof and said, “It is they who are responsible for the ferry accident.”
Lansa requested the Governor of Eastern Province to remove the Chairman of Kinniya Urban Council from his post immediately, assuring a new bridge will be constructed across the Kinniya lagoon though it would take some time.