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Death toll in West Bengal trawler tragedy rises to 62

The search for 50 more missing persons continues in the Hooghly river near Talpatty island.

Updated: Nov 01, 2010, 23:54 PM IST

Kakdwip: With 21 bodies retrieved from the Hooghly on Monday, the toll in Saturday`s trawler mishap near Talpatty island shot up to 62 even as search for 50 more missing persons continued amid inclement weather.

"Altogether 62 bodies have been recovered and search operations, which slowed down due to rough weather, are still on for nearly 50 missing persons," Sunderbans development minister Kanti Ganguly told a news agency.

Faced with demonstrations by relatives of the deceased, the administration decided to conduct DNA tests on the bodies which have more than one claimant, South 24-Parganas District Magistrate NS Nigam said.

Alleging tardy progress of post mortem at Kakdwip hospital, villagers blocked NH 117 for over 90 minutes, blocking vehicular movement from Kakdwip to Kolkata.

State Home Secretary GD Gautama said in Kolkata that 220 persons were onboard the trawler as per the missing reports submitted to the administration by gram pradhans of local villages.

He said 93 persons were found to have either swum to safety or rescued.

Gautama said an FIR had been lodged against the owner of the trawler who was still absconding. The state government has already announced a compensation of Rs two lakh to each of the families of the deceased.

Ganguly said that rescue operations by eight agencies -- Navy, Coastguard, marine police, Kolkata port trust, state and Kolkata police and disaster management group and civil defence -- were affected due to rough weather. "Some rescuers were caught in a whirlpool at the spot," he added.

Inclement weather forced air surveillance to stop, but hovercraft and speedboats continued to be on the job, Ganguly said.

The trawler, which was sailing from Hijli Sharif in East Midnapore district to Kakdwip in South Parganas capsized and sank on October 30. It was located yesterday by personnel
of the Kolkata Port Trust and the Coast Guard using echo sounding equipment.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee paid separate visits yesterday and also visited the Kakdwip Hospital.

PTI