At least 15 persons were feared killed when a country boat carrying some 35 to 40 passengers capsized in the swirling waters of the Sone river near Dhauri village in Sahar block of Bhojpur district in south-central Bihar on Monday.
Eight bodies have been fished out while some passengers had managed to swim to safety. A dozen passengers were said to be missing but not confirmed dead, police said.
The incident took place in the wee hours of Monday when villagers of Dhauri and adjoining villages under Sahar block took the boat to crossover to a fair organized at Masarwan in Arwal district on the occasion of 'malmas'.
Survivors said water filled the boat owing to seepage, but the warning was ignored. As soon as the boat reached midstream, it overturned and capsized.
Officials, informed about the mishap, alerted the national disaster relief force at Bihta, near Patna, which rushed a column to the mishap site for search operations.
Bhojpur district magistrate Pratima and superintendent of police M R Nayak initially pressed into service local divers the police for rescue operations. Later, another 30 divers from Patna joined in.
The teams fished out the bodies of Basmato Devi (50), Reshmi Kunwar( 65), Ruchika Kumari, Hira Devi (all of Dhauri), Rita Devi (26) of Chauri, Rina Devi of Khaira and Chhotu Prasad (8) of Narhi.
Boatman Rambachan Choudhary was among the four persons, who were rescued. All were rushed to the nearest hospitals for treatment.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar expressed grief over the boat tragedy and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of the dead. The amount comprised Rs 1.50 lakh each from the disaster relief fund and Rs 50,000 each from the chief minister's relief fund.
Kumar also directed the concerned authorities to arrange proper medical treatment for those injured in the mishap.