More than a day after an overcrowded boat capsized in Andhra Pradesh's river Krishna, there was no trace of at least 65 passengers with only 18 known to have survived, officials said on Friday.
The country-made boat sank in the backwaters of Srisailam dam near Manchala Katta village in Mahabubnagar on Thursday. Officials said they believed the missing passengers might have drowned.
The boat was carrying more than 80 people - against the officially sanctioned capacity of 35 - to a temple fair in Singotam village.
While mechanised boats rescued 15 people, three boatmen swam to safety. Officials said 17 women and 19 children were known to have drowned.
Authorities have stepped up rescue operations but no body or passenger was traced on Thursday or early Friday.
District collector Usha Rani said soldiers had been called in for rescue operations. She said a military helicopter would also be pressed into service.
Survivors told the police that the passengers, all from Kurnool district, had forced the boatman to carry more people than its capacity. A police officer said they even beat him up when he initially refused to comply.
The boat, which was reportedly in a poor condition, began leaking when it was about 300 meters into the river. A survivor said panic stricken people jumped into the 40-feet deep waters.
Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, who is in New Delhi, is expected to visit the accident site.