At least 50 people were feared drowned when an overloaded boat carrying 250 to 300 passengers capsized in Assam’s Kolohi river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra, on Monday afternoon.
The engine of the boat carrying people on their way to a boat race went dead in the middle of the river and the vessel keeled over after hitting the pillar of a wooden bridge, Kamrup (rural) district deputy commissioner Vinod Kumar Seshan said.
“It is difficult to tell how many passengers are dead … about 50 are missing,” he said.
Sechan said a few of the survivors told him there were about 25 people below deck when the boat overturned.
NDRF and state disaster response force teams have reached the site of the accident, 50km west of Guwahati, and were conducting an intensive search operation, Seshan said. Rescuers were also searching for survivors and victims downstream near Guwahati.
Most of the passengers had swum to safety, although the river has been swollen with recent monsoon rains and was flowing faster than usual.
Villagers blamed the administration for allowing boat operators to overcrowd vessels, most of which are poorly maintained.
A machine boat can accommodate not more than 100 passengers, but lack of inspection lets operators pack their vessels with 250-300 people.
(With agency inputs)