68 die, over 150 still missing in Assam boat tragedy

At least 68 people died and over 150 were still missing after a ferry, with over 250 people on board, capsized in heavy storm in Brahmaputra river in Assam’s Dhubri district Monday evening, officials said.

Sources in the district administration confirmed that 68 bodies have been fished out till 9.30 p.m. The Border Security Force (BSF) and National Disaster Rescue Force (NDRF) could rescue about 35 people from the river till that time.

Some of the passengers of the ill-fated ferry also reached the river bank by swimming and with the help of local people, the sources informed.

Local people said the incident took place in the evening hours when the ferry, on its way to Madattari under Fakirganj police station from Dhubri town, was caught up in a heavy storm.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP from the state, has expressed his shock about the loss of lives in the boat tragedy and conveyed his deepest condolences to the near and dear ones of those who lost their lives, said an official release.

He has also instructed officials for all possible assistance to the state government in relief operations and also for assistance from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund to the families of the deceased.

The prime minister spoke to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to convey his condolences and express solidarity with the people of Assam.

Meanwhile, an official communique issued from chief minister’s office said that Gogoi has directed the chief secretary and principal secretary, revenue and disaster management department to expedite the rescue and relief operations.