Woman dead, 6 passengers missing in India boat capsize
(Update 1: updates with correct figures and other info related to the accident)
Bhagalpur, India, Nov 5 (efe-epa).- A woman has died, and six passengers, including a minor, are missing after a boat carrying some 50 people capsized on Thursday in the Ganges River in the eastern state of Bihar in India, officials said.
At least 17 people suffered injuries in the accident that occurred around 8 am local time in the Naugachia area of Bhagalpur district.
A police officer had earlier reported that the accident left two people dead and that there were 100-150 people on the boat.
“There were 40-50 people on the boat. The boat was not large enough to hold more than that. The earlier number (100-150 people on the boat) was due to wrong estimate by the villagers nearby who saw a boat packed with people,” Kunal Anand Chakravarthy, an inspector with a Naugachia police station, told EFE.
Chakravarthy said the accident occurred very close to the shore, and most of the people on the boat managed to reach safety.
“The boat capsized as it lost balance, and not due to overloading as previously thought,” he said.
Authorities have launched a search operation to rescue the survivors.
Chakravarthy said the rescuers combed the area in a 2-km radius.
“Even the belongings of some of the passengers have been recovered. The operations will resume tomorrow morning,” he said.
The tragedy occurred in the middle of regional elections in Bihar, one of the poorest states of India and also its third-most populous with poor infrastructure.
Boat mishaps in rivers and lakes are not uncommon in India, often due to the precarious condition of the vessels and overloading of the passengers beyond the permissible limits.
In January 2017, at least 24 people died after a boat capsized due to overloading in the Ganges river in the city of Patna, the capital of Bihar.
In September the same year, at least 19 drowned and 10 persons went missing after the boat in which they were traveling capsized in the Yamuna river in the Baghpat area in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
At least 12 people died, 21 were missing when a boat sank in the Hirakud reserve in Sambalpur district in the eastern state of Orissa in February 2014.
In July 2013, at least 10 people, including nine children, died when an overcrowded boat shipwrecked in the Kosi river in Madhepura district of Bihar.
In late January, 21 people died when their boat sank near the Nicobar and Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal.
In 2012, more than 100 people died when a ferry sailing on the Brahmaputra River in the northeastern state of Assam went down after a powerful storm broke it in half. EFE-EPA