Sixteen bodies were recovered from the Bhagirathi river by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel till 10am on Monday morning after a boat capsized on Saturday.
The search is still on and more bodies could be recovered.
An overloaded boat capsized around 11:15pm on Saturday night, minutes after it set sail from Kalna in Burdwan district and was heading for Shantipur in Nadia.
On Sunday, Burdwan district magistrate put the number of dead at five. “The boat was carrying about 50 passengers. About four-five passengers are missing. It was raining when the accident occurred and that hampered rescue efforts. Divers are searching for the missing passengers,” DM, Burdwan. Soumitra Mohan said on Sunday.
Paltu Bag, chairman of Kalna municipality told HT, “NDRF and disaster management teams recovered 16 bodies. Seven of these were recovered near Kalna and the rest from Shantipur ghat.”
Police super of Burdwan, Gaurav Sharma, however, said, “Eight bodies were recovered from Kalna and seven from Shantipur so far.”
Swapan Debnath, Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate and minister was present at Kalna hospital to help relatives.
Relatives of the victims alleged that the administration was unprepared to handle the rush of people to the fair. They say the disaster could have been avoided if authorities were vigilant.
Most of those who boarded the boat were returning to Shantipur in Nadia district from a village fair called “Bhaba Paglar Mela” that was held in Kalna. They had to cross Bhagirathi river to go back home.
On Sunday morning, the delay in rescue operation following the disaster snowballed into a major law and order problem. Relatives of those missing clashed with the police at Shantipur in Nadia.
The angry mob set six boats on fire at Nrisinghapur Ghat in Shantipur. An assistant sub inspector Md Iliyas, was injured in the clash. Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas shells to get the situation under control.
According to reports, rescue operation began 12 hours after the boat sank on Saturday night.