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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

From the archives of the Hindustan Times: November 19

Important and interesting stories from HT Chronicles.

chronicles Updated: Nov 19, 2019 16:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Greatest boat tragedy ever in Bihar (1948)

Patna- Rescue squads scouring the Ganga here until tonight (November 18) failed to bring back any survivors after the ferry steamer ‘Narayani’ with an estimated 800 pilgrims on board from Sonepur, besides cattle and horses, had capsized a few feet off the river bank this morning drowning at least 500 of them and all the livestock in what is perhaps the biggest boat disaster in the country within the last 50 years.

Eye-witness accounts said that the steamer had almost made for its berthing point along the river bank when it tilted perilously to one side and sank within less than three minutes. Many persons perched on the roof and top deck leapt into the river and most of these swam ashore to safety. This number is not estimated at over 200.

The salvage operations conducted by two large steamers in the afternoon having failed, further operations have been suspended. The exact number of those who lost their lives trapped in the lower deck is not known.

A correspondent who reached the scene of occurrence immediately after the disaster saw only three persons who had been on the upper deck of the steamer swim ashore. These persons were so shaken by the tragedy that they could hardly give any coherent reply when questioned on the extent or cause of the disaster.

An eye-witness said that the steamer was carrying about 800 passengers from the Sonepur fair besides over 200 cattle. Both the decks were packed to the fullest extent and some passengers were found seated on the roof of the steamer. By the time the steamer had entered the Engineering College Ghat, water had entered the lower deck and with the scramble of passengers towards the side of the steamer nearer to the bank more water entered the deck and the boat tilted dangerously and sank in less than three minutes. Many persons who were on the top deck and roof jumped into the river and several swam ashore to safety.

Great welcome to Soviet leaders (1955)


New Delhi- Over a million people thronged the 12-mile ceremonial route from Palam to Rashtrapati Bhavan to give a memorable welcome to Mr. Bulganin, Soviet Prime Minister, and Mr. Khruschev, First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, as they arrived from Moscow this afternoon on their historic goodwill mission to India.

The welcome surpassed in magnitude and popular fervour that accorded so far to any visiting foreign dignitary. It was a magnificent return by the people of India for the stupendous welcome the Soviet people gave Mr. Nehru when he visited their country in June.

Greeting the Soviet leaders at Palam, Mr. Nehru, standing with the two leaders on a high mobile rostrum, addressed them as “Adariya Mehman” (honoured guests) in a brief speech of welcome in Hindi. It was punctuated with loud applause from 50,000 people collected at the airport.

The Prime Minister said he had no doubt that the Soviet leaders visit would “strengthen our bonds of friendship and co-operation” and “help the great cause of peace and co-operation between nations.”

As Mr. Bulganin was about to reply there was another wave of cheering. In Russian, he said in clear, emphatic accents: “It is our earnest hope that the increasing co-operation between India and the Soviet Union will help maintain international peace.”

His brief speech which was translated into chaste Hindi by a Russian member of the Bulganin-Khruschev party, began thus: “Mananiya Pradhan Mantri Mahodaya aur pyare dosto.”

Unforgettable were the scenes of warmth and enthusiasm on the lavishly-decorated ceremonial route which lay through Kitchner Road, Willingdon Crescent, Irwin Road, Connaught Place, Janpath and Rajpath. On both sides of the roads there were huge crowds of people. Men, women and children cheered wildly as the Soviet guests, with Mr. Nehru sitting between them in an open car, drove past.

Over 50,000 children-boys and girls-waved numerous Soviet and Indian flags. Mr. Bulganin and Mr.Khruschev, affected by the warmth of the welcome waved and bowed in return.

Miss World crown for Indian girl (1966)


London- Miss Reita Faria, the 23-year-old medical student from Bombay (vital statistics 35-24-35 inches), was elected Miss World in the beauty contest held here last night (November 17). She won against 51 competitors from all over the world, all of them the chosen beauties of their countries.

The second place was awarded to Miss Yugoslavia, the first contestant from a Communist country, and the third to Miss Greece.

Miss Faria gets a prize of £2,500 and can earn up to £30,000 in the year she “reigns” as the world’s beauty queen through film and public relations parts. But she surprised the British public accustomed to seeing beauty queens making a dash for films or modelling when she said she was not interested in any of these things. She was anxious to sit for her final examination in April next year and her ambition was to be a gynaecologist.

What seems to have helped her in her victory was her obvious intelligence added to her charm and good looks. She is probably the best educated girl to have competed in these contests and having been a medical student for five years has the composure and dignity to withstand the ballyhoo that accompany them. She withstood with calm the long ordeal of the elimination rounds televized over the British and Eurovision networks for 90 minutes.

At the end of it all, asked what she wanted to do with her prize money, she said she had longed for a Mercedes car, but because India was going through a difficult time, she would not spend it on such a luxury. She intended to return to Bombay and marry her financee, Mr. Osbourne Labo, who works in a plantation in West Bengal after she passes her final examination.

Blondes dominated the competition. Four of those who entered the finals were blondes, the other three brunettes.

Miss Canada-Diane Coulter, 18-year-old blonde model who had been made the favourite by Britain’s bookies-did not appear among the 15 finalists.