The exact number of passengers on board the boat at the time of the mishap was yet to be ascertained, police said.

Police, however, said preliminary investigation indicates that there were about 35 people in the boat, said to be over three-decades old, which capsized and sank after being allegedly hit by a speeding fishing craft in the harbour mouth off Fort Kochi yesterday.

About 25 passengers have been rescued from the sinking boat and admitted to various hospitals.

It was the quick rescue operations initiated by the local people and tourists, who were witness to the tragedy, that saved lives of several passengers, eye witnesses have stated.

Police said the passenger boat broke into two pieces and sank after it was forcefully hit in its middle by the speeding fishing craft.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who visited the injured in the hospital here last evening, had said the government will bear the treatment expense of the people admitted in various hospitals.

The passenger vessel was on its way from Vypin to Fort Kochi when it was hit by the fishing craft at the harbour mouth at about 1.40 pm yesterday.

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