Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma reached Jorhat, around 350 km from Guwahati, this morning to oversee rescue operations following the boat tragedy in the Brahmaputra river that resulted in the death of at least one person. Nearly 100 passengers were on board two boats when they crashed into each other at Nimati Ghat in Jorhat on Wednesday. The incident took place around 4 pm.
"There were at least 90 people. One died and two have been reported missing. Eighty-seven people have been rescued so far," Mr Sarma told reporters after visiting the accident site.
He added that a magisterial probe will be ordered into the incident. Three officials of the inland water transport department have been suspended after the accident.
"I have asked the Jorhat Police to file a criminal case for the accident. By today evening, we will announce a high-level probe to find out the reasons behind the accident," he said.
The All India Unorganized Workers Congress, an arm of the Congress party, released a video that captured the moment the two boats collided. Passengers in one of the boats, including women, are heard screaming in horror and later jumping into the river as the boat begins to capsize. Some of them are seen trying to swim to the other boat, which appears to be stable.
One of the boats, a ferry run by the government, was coming from Majuli (a river island district) to Nimati Ghat with around 90 people on board while the other was going in the opposite direction.
All rescued passengers were on board the smaller of the two boats, which was operated by a private operator. Officials said the larger boat - run by the state government - did not capsize.
Rescue operations intensified this morning with the national and state disaster response forces (NDRF, SDRF) in charge.
At 3 am, rescuers had cut open the boat to look for survivors but only found belongings, officials said.
41 personnel, including nine SDRF deep divers, are conducting the search operations with seven rescue boats. An NDRF team of 167 personnel is also involved, with 24 rescue boats.
The NDRF has also deployed 30 deep divers.
The Air Force is conducting aerial surveillance with its helicopters engaged in low-lying sorties over the Brahmaputra as they look for survivors.
The Army has also sent a team of divers to assist disaster response teams in the rescue operation.
Assam has issued emergency numbers following the accident.
Eight people are in hospital. A 30-year-old woman who was rescued died at the hospital.
For any emergency or information regarding missing person in Nimatighat boat mishap, kindly call to the Toll Free number:
1070/1079 (State Emergency Operation Centre)
1077 (District Emergency Operation Centre)
-Assam State Disaster Management Authority