At least 31 women labourers were feared killed when two boats carrying them capsized in Wainganga river near Khamari village in neighbouring Bhandara district, about 75 kms from Nagpur, police said on Sunday.
Fifteen bodies, three of teenaged girls, have been fished out while the police along with the locals and fishermen have launched a search operation to trace the missing.
The incident took place last evening when the women, who used to work in paddy fields, were returning home on the boats. A sudden bolt of lightning panicked them and their movements made the ferry lose balance and it capsized.
Two boatmen and four women managed to swam to safety through swirling waters, they said.
While 10 bodies were recovered late last night, five were fished out in the morning from different locations as they have been washed away by strong water currents.
Bodies of victims were handed over to their relatives after post-mortem, they added.
Meanwhile, Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, who represents Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha constituency, along with Maharashtra Minister of State for Irrigation Vijay Wadettiwar and Minister of State for EGS Nanabhau Panchbudhe visited the accident site.
He announced a compensation of Rs One lakh to the next of the kin of the victims on behalf of Maharashtra Chief Minister and Rs 25,000 each from Manohar Bhai Patel Trust.