Death toll in boat tragedy in eastern India rises to 23

NEW DELHI — The death toll in Saturday’s boat tragedy in the eastern Indian state of Bihar has risen to 23, with more bodies being fished out of the Ganga river.

“Some 23 people, including women and children, are now confirmed dead while another 10 are still missing in the boat mishap,” said a senior police official.

“At least 10 people have been rescued and the injured have been admitted to a local hospital,” he added.

The boat capsized at around 6 p.m. local time (1230 GMT) Saturday when the overcrowded boat carrying more than 40 people was unable to bear the load.

The passengers included those who were returning from a kite flying festival that was organized on an island in the middle of the river as part of Makar Sankranti, a festival celebrating the end of winter solstice.

Local TV channels showed footage of rescue efforts by divers, saying that rescue operations had ended for the night.

“The rescue operation has stopped for the time being due to darkness. It will resume after sunrise,” Sanjay Kumar Aggarwal, district magistrate of Patna, capital city of Bihar, told the media.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed grief over the loss of lives caused by the boat tragedy in Bihar.

“He extended condolences to the bereaved families,” his office tweeted.

Bihar State Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has ordered an investigation into the accident and announced a compensation of 40,000 rupees (USD8,000) for the family of each victim.

“A probe will be conducted to ascertain the exact cause of the mishap,” the official said. PNA/