At least two persons died and 26 others were injured after a boat carrying 40 passengers capsized in the Brahmaputra river in Assam on Wednesday, reported ANI. National and State Disaster Response Forces personnel were deployed to the site in North Guwahati. At least 12 people swam to the shore.
The boat collided with a pillar of an under-construction water supply project, the ASDMA official said. Kamrup Deputy Commissioner Kamal Kumar Baishya told PTI that only 22 passengers had valid tickets on the vessel that was also carrying 18 two-wheelers. The vessel was headed towards Majbat in North Guwahati.
Assam Inland Water Transport Director Bharat Bhushan Dev Choudhury said the ferry was operated by a private lessee but registered with the government department. The vessel’s engine had stopped functioning before it collided with the pillar. Another vessel was on its way to assist the malfunctioning boat, but it collided with the pillar before help could arrive, he said.
“Had there been proper number of life guards, jackets and officials guiding the passengers, it could have helped them stay afloat till the arrival of the rescue team,” Choudhury said. “A mandatory number of life guards and life jackets should be on board every boat, so we have to check whether the vessel did have all that in place.” He added that an inquiry will be initiated to find out if the boat operator flouted norms.
Government-owned ferries have suspended operations on account of rising water levels in the river, but private vessels have continued their services, North East Now reported.