Seven persons are missing after a mechanised boat carrying 29 passengers capsized in the Brahmaputra river in Dhubri district of Assam on Thursday, a government official said. Twenty-two people, including some school students, have been rescued so far by SDRF and local people and operations are on by them and BSF personnel to save the others, district deputy commissioner Anbamuthan MP said. The mechanised boat had capsized after hitting the post of a bridge at Bhashanir area, about three km from Dhubri town, the DC told reporters on his return from the site.
The boat has been located and efforts are on to lift it with the help of cranes used for construction of a nearby bridge, he said. Locals joined the rescue operation with country boats and divers from the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have also been deployed to rescue the missing, the DC said. The rescued have been admitted to a nearby hospital where the condition of five of them was stated to be serious, Anbamuthan said.
He said that there is no information about how many students were there in the boat but there are no reports of any of them missing. An official had earlier said that several school children were on board.
Among those missing is circle officer Sanju Das, who was returning to Dhubri along with a land record official and a field officer after surveying an erosion affected area in Aminur char (riverine area), the DC said. The land record officer and the field circle officer have been rescued but are in a state of shock, he added.
Locals had earlier claimed that around 100 passengers were travelling on the boat and 10 motorcycles were loaded in it. Anbamuthan said that he is yet to inquire about the motorcycles loaded in the boat and will look into lapses, if any in safety measures.
"It is unfortunate that the incident took place while the boat was crossing a channel less than 50 metres," he said. Meanwhile, an engineer of a private firm hired for the construction of the bridge has been detained by the police for allegedly obstructing the local people from using the bridge to reach the mishap site and the cranes to rescue the people.
The cranes were later used by the authorities to rescue a few people. Dhubri Lok Sabha MP Badruddin Ajmal expressed anguish over the boat mishap and demanded a high-level inquiry into it.
He also urged the state government to pay an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the next of kin of the missing persons. A Congress delegation led by its state working president Rana Goswami, legislators Wajed Ali Choudhury, Jadav Swargiary and Abdul Batin Khandekar and other party office-bearers will visit the mishap site on Friday, party sources said.