The death of 34 tourists in Thekkady aboard a KTDC vessel (jalakanyaka) is both an absolute tragedy and a reminder of the problem of safety throughout Kerala tourism.
The trip was in the early evening when a wildlife sighting was reported on one side of the craft. Everybody rushed (80 souls) to that side and the boat simply turned turtle. The craft itself was relatively new, having only been in operation for 1 month on the man-made Lake Periyar and if this first report is true then it will be a design fault with the craft rather than negligence on the part of the captain as with previous accidents involving tour boats.
Most of the visitors were from North India celebrating the vijayadasami festival which is one of the most important festivals in the indian calendar. (also known as the navarathri festival, it more popular name.) Reports from the hospital were heartbreaking as mother wailed for lost children and a husband hugged his dead wife’s body.
Reports state that none were wearing life jackets and that in the late hour it was impossible to conduct proper rescue mission.
The questions we will all be asking is what does this say about safety processes considering that this was a KTDC boat and not some ramshackle private vehicle.
It has long been a mystery why some visitors to Kerala get bitten more than others, now scientists may have found the answer. It is amount of ketones in sweat. Ketones which are sweet smelling repel mosquitoes. Researchers at Aberdeen University compared the odours of two sets of volunteers: those who get bitten and those who dont and discovered that the key difference between them was the levels of ketones in the sweat. Tests showed that spraying ketones on the skin repelled mosquitoes.
The plan is to develop a new class of repellents that use ketone as the active ingredient. Until which time… cover yourself in chocolate!