One dead, 33 missing as boat sinks in Assam
Jorhat/Guwahati, Sep. 8 (PTI): At least one person died and 33 others went missing after a boat carrying over 120 passengers collided with a ferry steamer and sank in the Brahmaputra river near Nimati Ghat in Jorhat district of Assam on Wednesday, officials said.
Three officials of the Inland Water Transport (IWT) Department have been placed under suspension for alleged negligence of duty, while senior ministers admitted that there were lapses and the “guilty” will be punished.
The accident occurred when the private boat ‘Ma Kamala’ was headed to Majuli from Nimati Ghat and ferry ‘Tripkai’, operated by the state’s Inland Water Transport (IWT) Department, was coming from the riverine island.
“The boat capsized and sank,” an official of the IWT Department said.
Another IWT official said more than 120 passengers were on board the boat but many of them were rescued by lifeguards on ‘Tripkai’.
A woman died in hospital after she was rescued from the river, Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) Chief Executive Officer Gyanendra Tripathi told PTI.
“We have reports of around 33 people missing. Several teams of NDRF and SDRF are carrying out rescue operations and it will continue whole night,” Jorhat Superintendent of Police Ankur Jain said.
The deceased was identified as Porimita Das who hails from Guwahati and was working as a faculty in a college in Majuli.
Three more persons are undergoing treatment at the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital, a senior doctor said.
Jorhat Deputy Commissioner Ashok Barman told PTI that 42 people have been rescued so far and nobody has been recovered from the water yet.
“After sinking, it swept around 1.5 km away and stuck in the bed of the river. The boat is upside down now and we are not able to turn it around. Once we can do that, we will be able to see if anybody is stuck there,” he added.
The Army will join the operations on Thursday morning with some advanced machines, Barman said.
The NDRF and SDRF have started a rescue and search operation, but they are facing difficulties as it was pitch dark.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the boat accident.
“My thoughts go out to the victims, survivors and their families. Rescue and relief efforts are on to save as many lives as possible, Kovind said.
“All possible efforts are being made to rescue the passengers. I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being,” Modi tweeted.
Responding to Modi’s tweet, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said he is personally supervising the rescue operations.
“All the injured are being diligently attended to,” he added in a tweet.
The chief minister will visit Nimati Ghat on Thursday, a CMO statement said.
In a statement, Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi expressed concern over the accident and said the state government with its men and materials has launched a massive rescue operation.
“All possible steps are being taken to rescue the victims and give adequate medical attention to the rescued people,” he added.