In a tragic incident, at least 24 people, including minors, drowned when a boat capsized on the Ganga in Patna on Saturday evening, allegedly due to overloading.
Around 40 people were said to be onboard the country boat when it capsized near NIT ghat last evening.
The bodies of four persons were recovered early morning on Sunday, taking the total death toll of the the boat tragedy to 24.
Six people were rescued and have been admitted in the Patna Medical College and Hospital for treatment.
When asked whether there could be more bodies lying in the river, Principal Secretary (Disaster Management) Pratyaya Amrit told PTI that hopes were fading, but rescue works by the SDRF and NDRF teams were still going on.
“No more family has come forward to claim about missing kin in the boat tragedy,” he said.
The revellers had gathered at Patna’s Ganga Diara to witness a three-day kite festival which is held every year on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.
The overcrowded vessel, which had taken people for the ride from ganga ghat, capsized at around 6 pm.
Visuals captured by locals from the shore show rescuers diving to save the people. Even locals in nearby boats approached the spot to help.
The boat had been retrieved from the Ganga, the senior official said adding it was intact in one piece.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed grief over the boat tragedy and ordered a high level probe into the incident.
He further directed the officials to provide ex-gratia assistance of Rs four lakh each to the next of kin of the victims at the earliest.
Kumar also directed the Principal Secretary (Disaster Management) Pratyaya Amrit, Central Range DIG Shalin and Patna’s District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar Agrawal to carry out rescue operations at war footing and make proper arrangement of treatment at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) of those persons rescued from the river after the boat tragedy.
The boat tragedy has also led to cancellation of various engagements with the ruling JD(U) scrapping ‘dahi-chura’ feast that its state unit president Bashistha Narayan Singh was scheduled to host today.
Another function scheduled for the day to mark the start of redevelopment work of the dilapidated Mahatma Gandhi Setu which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to address via video conferencing from the national capital was also postponed, the state unit BJP President Nityanand Rai said.
PM Modi also sanctioned Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of those killed in Patna boat tragedy, and Rs 50,000 to those who were seriously injured, from the PM National Relief Fund.
Meanwhile, an FIR has been lodged at Sonpur Police Station against the boat operator, who survived the incident, for overloading the vessel beyond its holding capacity.
With agency inputs.
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— ANI (@ANI_news) January 15, 2017