One person died while 20 others were reported to be missing after two boats carrying about 120 passengers sank in the Brahmputra river in Jorhat after colliding with a ferry steamer on Wednesday. Meanwhile, a rescue operation is underway.
"One death has been confirmed in the boat accident at Nimati Ghat, Jorhat. Rescue operation underway," Jorhat SP Ankur Jain said.
The accident occurred when the private boat 'Ma Kamala' was headed to Majuli from Nimati Ghat and the government-owned ferry 'Tripkai' was coming from the riverine island.
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 15-20 people missing. Several teams of NDRF and SDRF are carrying out rescue operations with support from the Army and para divers," he said.
Three senior officials of IWT Department were suspended on the charge of negligence of duty in connection with the accident, an official statement said.
Jorhat Deputy Commissioner Ashok Barman told PTI that 41 people have been rescued so far and no body 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 add
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said he was "pained" at the tragic boat accident. Sarma directed Majuli and Jorhat administration to undertake rescue operation expeditiously.
"I am pained at the tragic boat accident near Nimati Ghat, Jorhat. Directed Majuli & Jorhat admin to undertake rescue mission expeditiously with help of @NDRFHQ & SDRF. Advising Min @BimalBorahbjp to immediately rush to the accident site. I'll also visit Nimati Ghat tomorrow," the chief minister wrote on Twitter.
Sarma said Union Home Minister Amit Shah had called him to enquire about the accident and took an update on the rescue operations.
"Adarniya HM Sri @AmitShah had kindly called to enquire about the accident in Nimati Ghat and took an update on the rescue operations and conditions of those rescued so far. He said the Central Government is ready to lend all possible help. Grateful to him," the CM said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to Twitter and said: "Saddened by the boat accident in Assam. All possible efforts are being made to rescue the passengers. I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being."