Patna: At least 21 people are presumed dead due to drowning and many are missing after a boat carrying 40 people capsized near the banks of Ganga in Patna on Saturday, police said.
The incident took place around 6pm, when the boat was returning from a kite flying festival that was organised in an island in the middle of the river as part of Makar Sankranti celebration, rescue officials added.
Some of the passengers were able to swim to safety but many continue to be missing, the officials said.
NDRF has been rushed to the spot and rescue operations are on in full swing.
According to sources, it was a small boat which was overloaded with people.
The boat was about to reach the bank when it capsized.
Rescue operations are on to trace the missing passengers.
Six of the eight people rescued were pulled out from the river by the National Disaster Response Force.
One of the survivors has claimed that over 100 people were on the boat and all of a sudden the water started entering the boat leading to an inundation.
Patna district magistrate Sanjay Agarwal and district police officials are camping at the site.
Reacting to the incident Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar expressed grief and asked the officials to fasten the rescue operations. He spoke to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari over phone and requested him to cancel Mahatma Gandhi Setu rehabilitation foundation stone laying program which was scheduled to be held on Sunday. RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav has also cancelled 'Dahi-Chura' feast for minorities due to the tragedy.
Patna's DIG Shaleen said, "It's a sad incident ...the rescue operations are on and 20 dead bodies have been recovered from the Ganga. It is possible that few more dead bodies will be recovered as the operations are still on.
ADG (law and order) Alok Raj said, "The overcrowded boat capsized as it lost its balance. No Individual was found trapped inside the boat. Rescue teams are doing their job and death toll may rise."
Principal Secretary, Disaster Management department Pratyay Amrit, said, "A huge crowd had assembled at an illegal entertainment park and they were coming back in boats. We have finished with rescue operations for tonight. Rescue operations will resume at 7 am on Sunday.
PM expressed grief on the loss of lives caused by the boat tragedy in Bihar. He extended condolences to the bereaved families.— PMO India (@PMOIndia) January 14, 2017
Shocked to hear about the boat capsizing in Bihar. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased.— Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) January 14, 2017
Bihar BJP leader Sushil Modi too expressed sadness over the incident.
Most unfortunate that many people drowned in Ganga on Makar Sankranti .— Sushil Kumar Modi (@SushilModi) January 14, 2017