Sixteen people drowned and over 50 were feared missing after the trawler they were travelling in capsized near the confluence of the Bay of Bengal and river Buriganga in West Bengal on Saturday, police said.
"Sixteen bodies have been fished out. The incident occurred around 10.30 am near Ghoramara island of South 24 Parganas district. The trawler was sailing to Kakdweep from Hijli Sarif in East Midnapore district," Additional Director General of police (Law and Order) Surojit Kar Purokayastha said.
There were over 100 people onboard.
However, Zilla Parishad president of neighbouring East Midnapore district Ranjit Mondal said 18 people have been rescued by a fishing boat.
"The casualty figure could be as high as 40," he said.
State Sundarban Affairs Minister Kanti Ganguly said around 50 people have been rescued.
Soon after the tragedy, senior administration and police officers held a high-level meeting and decided to ask for divers from the navy for rescue operations.
"Since there are no divers in Kolkata, the Eastern Naval Command at Vishakhapatnam has been contacted," defence ministry spokesperson Wing Commander Mahesh Upasani told IANS Kolkata.
Civil Defence Minister Srikumar Mukherjee said: "We have sent inflatable boats there. We will conduct search operations late in the night."