At least seven persons are feared missing after a boat capsized in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district on Thursday night, reported PTI. The overcrowded vessel, plying from Kacharipara to Garibpur village, was carrying 40 people and two-wheelers. It capsized in the Bhairab river at around 7.30 pm.
Murshidabad District Magistrate P Ulganathan said while some people were rescued, others managed to swim ashore. “There are possibly five to seven persons missing,” he said.
Domkal Sub-Divisional Officer Dhivya Loganathan said the administration cannot confirm if any of the missing persons had drowned, reported the Hindustan Times. “We have heard that three persons are missing, but none has lodged any complaint so far,” she added.
Three of the missing have been identified as 18-month old Al Amin, four-year-old Umme Salma and her 40-year-old mother Jahura Bibi.
Loganathan said a National Disaster Response Force team launched a rescue operation soon after the accident, but it was being hampered by bad light. The search was intensified on Friday morning, she added.
The father of one of those missing alleged that the rescue operation was continuing very slowly. “Till 11 am, the rescuers couldn’t even pull the boat out,” said Jahura Bibi’s father Abdul Salam Mondal. “Only around midday could they locate the boat.”
Residents said most people on the boat were related to each other and were returning home after the burial of a family member, reported The Telegraph. Subha Mandal, a resident, said: “We saw several women crying, saying their children slipped out while they were in the water after the boat capsized.”
On Wednesday, two persons died and 26 others were injured after a boat carrying 40 passengers capsized in the Brahmaputra river in Assam. At least 12 people swam to the shore. The boat collided with a pillar of an under-construction water supply project before sinking.