Odisha boat toll mounts to 28, three still missing
Bhubaneswar/Sambalpur: The toll in Sunday`s capsize of an overloaded motorised boat, carrying mostly picnickers, in Odisha`s Hirakud reservoir rose to 28 on Monday, while three persons were still missing.
Though 11 bodies were recovered on Sunday, the others were spotted by two Odisha Rapid Action Force personnel with high resolution binoculars from a state government helicopter and retrieved by scuba divers, firefighters and ODRAF men this morning, official sources said.
Among the 28 victims were 14 women, three girls, 10 men and a boy.
Among the casualties were Dinesh Tiwari and his wife Mina from Sambalpur, while their daughter was still missing.
A 60-year-old man C Singh Chandel, his wife Santosh Kumari and their daughter-in-law also perished, as also three sisters Srishti, Purba and Tania, while their parents survived.
Another woman, Sushmita Jena and her minor daughter drowned.
Of the bodies, six were retrieved from the sunken boat by scuba divers, while the ODRAF men in the helicopter helped to locate others, Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra said.
The search would continue till all the bodies were recovered, he said.
About 80 persons were rescued yesterday.
While the capacity of the boat was 100 passengers, there were 144 persons on board, sources said.
Besides the picnickers, around 30 local people, some with motorcycles, were also on board the boat from Tilla ghat.
Revenue and Disaster Management minister S N Patro, who visited the accident spot on the instruction of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, said that the boat capsized because of over-crowding.
"The boatmen asked some of the picnickers to disembark as the boat was overloaded, but this was ignored," the minister said.
Mohapatra said that the victims were mostly from among the Lion`s Club members as local people on board swam to safety.
Recounting the sequence of events in the Assembly, Parliamentary Affairs minister Kalpataru Das said that halfway through the return journey, the motor suddenly stopped creating panic among the passengers with the boat capsizing.
Another boat rushed to rescue the passengers with most of them jumping into the water.
As soon as the district administration received information about the capsize, the collector, the Superintendent of Police, and the fire-brigade launched a rescue operation, Das said.
The state government has announced Rs 1.5 lakh ex-gratia for the family members of the dead and free treatment for the survivors.
An administrative inquiry by Sambalpur`s revenue divisional commissioner has been ordered.
A mass cremation of the bodies of the victims took place in Sambalpur, where most shops were closed because of the tragedy.
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