At least eight persons died and several persons went missing due to flash floods in the Mal river in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district on Wednesday, PTI reported. Hundreds of devotees had gathered for an idol immersion ceremony on the occasion of Vijayadashmi when the flash floods occured around 8.30 pm.

“All of a sudden, flash floods struck and people were swept away,” District Magistrate Moumita Godara said. “So far, eight bodies have been recovered and we have rescued around 50 people.”

Teams of the National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force, the police and local administration are carrying out search and rescue operations. Bulu Chik Baraik, MLA from the Mal constituency, expressed concerns that the toll could increase, PTI reported.

“I was present at the spot when the incident happened,” he said. “Several people were swept away and the water current was very strong. Hundreds of people were present when the incident took place. Several are still missing.”

West Bengal Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari urged the district magistrate and the state chief secretary to step up rescue efforts and provide assistance to the victims.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter that he was anguished at the incident.

Six dead in Ajmer

Meanwhile, six persons died in Rajasthan’s Ajmer district on Wednesday after they fell into a ditch filled with rain water during the immersion of an idol of Hindu deity Durga, PTI reported.

The police identified those who died as Pawan Raigar, Gajendra Raigar, Rahul Meghwal, Lucky Bairwa, Rahul Raigar and Shankar.

Superintendent of Police Chuna Ram Jat said that the ditch is often used for idol immersion, but the locals did not have an idea of how deep it was.

In Uttar Pradesh’s Agra district, three persons drowned in the Yamuna river during idol immersion at separate places, according to ANI.

A 15-year-old boy drowned in the river in Sikandra area, while two persons aged 19 years and 22 years drowned in a portion of the river that falls under the New Agra police station. Rescue operations were conducted till late on Wednesday evening, but no one was found. Circle Officer Mayank Tiwari said that search operations would continue.