At least seven persons were feared killed when a country boat carrying some 35 to 40 passengers capsized in the swirling waters of the Sone near Dhauri village. Some managed to swim to safety, while a dozen were said to be missing initially. But there was no confirmation. Seven bodies were fished out.
The incident took place in the wee hours of Monday when villagers of Dhauri and adjoining villages under Sahar block took the boat to cross over to a fair organised at Masarwan in Arwal district on the occasion of 'malmas'.
Survivors said there was seepage and water filled the boat, but warnings were totally ignored. As soon as the boat reached the mid stream, the boat overturned and capsized.
Officials, when informed about the mishap, alerted the contingent of the Nataional Disaster Relief Force at Bihta that rushed a column for search operations.
Bhojpur district magistrate Pratima and superintendent of police M R Nayak pressed in local divers for rescue initially. Later, they were joined by another 30 divers from Patna. The teams fished out the bodies of Basmato Devi (50), Reshmi Kunwar (65), Ruchika Kumari, Hira Devi, all of Dhauri, Rita Devi (26) of Chauri, Rina Devi of Khaira and Chhotu Prasad (8) of Narhi. Four persons, who were rescued alive included boatman Rambachan Choudhary. They were rushed to the nearest hospitals for treatment. Chief minister Nitish Kumar has expressed grief over the boat tragedy and announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each to the kin of those dead in the incident comprising Rs. 1.50 lakh each from the disaster relief fund and Rs. 50,000 each from the chief minister’s relief fund. Kumar also directed the authorities concerned to arrange proper medical care and treatment for those injured in the mishap.