13 dead as boat capsizes in Odisha's Hirakud reservoir

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A boat carrying over 90 people capsized on the Hirakud reservoir in Odisha's Sambalpur district

Sambalpur, Odisha:  At least 13 people, including five women and two children, have died and 20 others are missing after a boat carrying over 100 people capsized on the Hirakud reservoir in Odisha's Sambalpur district on Sunday.

"People said about 100 people were in the boat which capsized on the reservoir," said Amitav Panda, a police officer of Ainthapalli Police Station. Around 90 people have been rescued so far.

Unofficial sources, however, claimed the rescue teams have recovered 16 bodies from the reservoir of the Mahanadi river.

The bodies were taken to VSS Medical College Hospital at Burla and District Headquarters Hospital in Sambalpur.

Personnel of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), fire brigade, police and local divers were engaged in rescue operation, Special Relief Commissioner PK Mohapatra said.

The rescue operation was going on during the night with the help of flash lights, Mr Mohapatra said, adding that efforts were on to retrieve rest of the bodies.

The incident took place when a group of people from the Lion's Club of Sambalpur, Hirakud and Bargarh, who had gone to other side of the reservoir on a picnic, were returning.

"The boat capsized due to over-crowding," Mr Panda said.

Quoting a survivor, he said "...the boat developed a snag mid-way and water also entered in the boat, which led to the capsize."

As some others were returning in another boat they informed the district administration and police which promptly took action and launched rescue operation, said Sambalpur district collector Balwant Singh.

As the rescue operation was launched without delay, many lives were saved, said police, adding that the rescue team with four country-made boats reached the accident site after hearing screams of the people from another boat.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has expressed grief over the incident and directed the district administration to undertake rescue operation on war footing. He has also announced free treatment for the survivors as well as a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh to the families of the victims.

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