Odisha boat tragedy toll 28, probe ordered

February 11, 2014 - 9:49:40 am
Bhubaneswar: The toll in Sunday’s boat tragedy in Odisha rose to 28 yesterday, with rescuers retrieving more bodies, officials said. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ordered an inquiry into the tragedy and announced an ex-gratia grant of Rs1.5 lakh to the kin of the dead.

“Seventeen bodies were retrieved today (Monday). It is estimated that at least three people are still missing,” state Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra said.

The dead include 17 women, of whom three are below the age of 10, and 11 men — of whom one is below seven years.

The boat which went down in the Hirakud Dam reservoir, about 350km from Bhubaneswar, around 4.30pm on Sunday, was carrying more than 100 people against a capacity of 70. Most of the passengers were picnickers.

The rescue operation by firefighters, Disaster Rapid Action Force units and scuba divers in the reservoir was halted for the day Monday evening and will resume Tuesday, the official said.

The accident occurred when the people from Sambalpur and nearby areas were returning after a picnic on the other side of the reservoir.

Witnesses said the mechanised boat capsized in the middle of the reservoir after water entered into it following a snag. The passengers tried hard to drain out the water from the boat, but in vain.

Many of the picnickers jumped off the boat in panic. A survivor said the boat did not have basic safety measures.