An official said, the boat was making a trip from Punnami Ghat, Bhavanipuram, to Pavitra Sangamam, Ferry village. Most of the victims are believed to be from Ongole and Nellore.
Reports say that 14 bodies have been recovered so far.
The Police said 38 people, who were on picnic party on the occasion of Karthika Masam, boarded a boat, being operated by a private company. Fishermen Nadakurti Pitchaich and Kanna Siva Durga Rao were busy fishing in their boat at 5.30 pm when they heard a big splash in the water and saw a boat drowning. They were helped by trained swimmers and local fishermen who launched rescue efforts when the boat capsized.
National Disaster Response Force personnel joined divers in the rescue operations, but these were hampered with the sunset.
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Police said the ferry riders were not wearing life jackets, The Press Trust of India news agency reported.
"The boat was overloaded with 38 people and majority were not provided life jackets". Some of the survivors complained that the police that the boat was shaking right from moment it started from Bhavani Island. However, locals allege that many boats do not have sufficient number of life jackets and carry more passengers than their sanctioned capacity.
Tourism Minister Akhila Priya ordered probe into the incident.
Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, deputy CM (home) N China Rajappa, leader of opposition Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, state BJP president K Hari Babu and others expressed grief over the incident.
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