At least 22 people have lost their lives after a double-decker boat capsized in India’s Kerala state in an incident blamed on the lack of safety measures.

The ill-fated boat had sunk near the Tuvalthiram beach in Malappuram district’s coastal town Tanur at around 7pm on Sunday, Indian media outlet NDTV reported citing the state government.

The police said it has registered a case against the boat owner after the tragic incident for “culpable homicide.”

Even though the accurate number of passengers on the boat remains unknown, 40 are those who were travelling on a ticket while the numerous others had none.

It was also reported by NDTV that the boat lacked a safety certificate.

Rescue work is being conducted by India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Indian Coast Guard with personnel tracking down missing passengers using underwater cameras.

The police is yet to ascertain the cause behind the accident.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed grief and shock at the incident while announcing a compensation for victims’ families.

“Pained by the loss of lives due to the boat mishap in Malappuram, Kerala. Condolences to the bereaved families. An ex-gratia of ₹ 2 lakh from PMNRF (Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund) would be provided to the next of kin of each deceased,” Modi tweeted.