Dhubri, Assam: Search operations are on for more than 100 people who are still missing
after a over packed steamer carrying at least 250 passengers sank in the
Brahmaputra river in Assam on Monday after being caught in a severe
storm. Nearly 24 hours after the tragedy just 17 bodies have been found
with authorities saying that most of the bodies may have got swept away
making it even more difficult to estimate how many may have actually
been on board.
Yesterday, Deputy Commissioner Kumud Chandra Kalita had said that at least 25 people swam ashore after the boat capsized.
waters, bad weather and strong currents have hampered search for
survivors this morning. The Army has rushed in two infantry columns,
two engineer task forces with six boats, 12 divers and medical teams
to assist in the rescue operations. Besides the Army, BSF's water wing,
National Disaster Force and police with mechanised boats are engaged in
a massive rescue operation in the river.
Now an eyewitness
account suggests that many of the people on the boat may have been
killed after they jumped into the water when it appeared that the boat
would turn turtle. "We told the boatman to dock on an island when it
became clear that the weather was turning bad. However he refused to
listen to us. The boat then began rocking side to side and many of us
began panicking. In those moments, people then began jumping off the
boat. At least 100 people must have jumped and drowned," recounted a
survivor to the local media.
As with any national tragedy,
families of victims also cite government apathy towards them. "We
visited the local district collector's office but it was locked. Some
officers there told us to come back later and one officer told me to go
away," said a victim's family member. He also alleged that boats were
always over packed and with no life jackets, life guards or safety gear a
tragedy like this was waiting to happen.
Manmohan Singh has announced compensation of Rs two lakh each for the
next of kin of those killed in boat tragedy.
The steamer had left
Dhubri ferry ghat for Mederteri in south bank of the district in the
evening and capsized because of the impact of the storm.
Story first published:
May 01, 2012 14:10 IST