The incident occurred around 7 pm near the Tela ghat when the boat was going from Handia to Meja, Circle Officer, Meja, Umesh Sharma said.
There were 16 people on the boat, of which 12 swam to safety while four, all men, are feared drown, he said.
The officer said of those missing, three were residents of Meja and one of Handia.
Search and rescue operations have begun and divers pressed into service. However, darkness is proving to be a hindrance, he said.
Apart from the 16 individuals, the boat was also carrying six to seven motorcycles and four to five cycles, the official said.
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