Assam Boat Tragedy: Police Fear Death Toll May Touch 250
The final death toll of the Assam boat tragedy remains unknown with more than 100 people still missing, and police and rescue workers said the death toll could reach 250.
The tragedy occurred after an overcrowded double-decker boat carrying more than 300 passengers capsized in the Brahmaputra river in Dhubri district, Assam, at 5 p.m. on Monday night.
The ill-fated boat left Dhubri ghat to Medertari, near Fakirganj at around 2:30 p.m., and became caught in a cyclonic storm. It drifted away and broke into pieces after hitting a boulder at Bura-Buri. The accident site is about 200 kilometers from Guwahati.
The National Disaster Response Force, the Border Security Force, the Assam police, the Army and the local people have been undertaking search operations; however, only a few bodies have been recovered. Authorities said bad weather and muddy water have hampered the search operation.
"A motorised boat carrying about 300 passengers was sailing from Dhubri town to Medertari but the boat was caught in a cyclonic storm in the Brahmaputra river and it was capsized around 5 p.m.," Pradip Saloi, who's superintendent of police in Dhubri district, where the tragedy occurred, told a news service in India.
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"At least 52 passengers swam to safety after the incident, but many including women and child are unaccounted for till now," he added.
Assam Government, PM Announce Help
The Assam government said on Tuesday that it will give Rs 1.5 lakh each to the families of the victims who died in the boat tragedy. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims and announced Rs 2 lakh each for next of kin.
The Border Security Force has established a helpline for information on the victims. The 24-hour helpline number is 0361-2842972.
Meanwhile, Congress general secretary, Rahul Gandhi, will pay a visit to Assam on Wednesday. He's expected to visit the site of the ferry tragedy by helicopter.
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