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37 are from East Godavari district and seven are from West Godavari district. Ace swimmers to trace the missing persons had been pressed into service, he said. On Wednesday, teams of Indian Navy and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) brought a JCB from the nearby Polavaram project site but could not pull out the wreckage of the boat from the river.

Earlier in the day, Naidu personally monitored the operation of pulling out the boat and into rescue operations. However, the number of people who were travelling on the boat is yet to confirmed. This incident took place near Manturu, 18 km from the mandal headquarters of Devipatnam of East Godavari district around 5 p.m.

About 20 people swam to safety Tuesday evening after the ferry flipped on the Godavari River but others, including a group traveling to a wedding, remained unaccounted for.

East Godavari District Collector Kartikeya Misra said that the passengers asked the boat driver and the owner of the boat, who was also onboard, to take it ashore when it started raining. Few people managed to survive after jumping from the boat'.

Describing the deaths as nothing but government killings, Pawan said it was unfortunate that the government was least bothered about lack of permissions and checking fitness of the boats to operate in the river.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Deputy Chief Minister (Home) N Chinarajappa has inquired about the incident and instructed the concerned officials for search operations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed his anguish over the incident on Twitter. "I pray for the safety of those missing".