The death toll in Sunday's boat capsize tragedy in Odisha's Hirakud reservoir has risen to 15, with rescuers retrieving four more bodies on Monday, an official has said.
"Four bodies were retrieved today (Monday). Sixteen people are still missing," state Special Relief Commissioner P.K. Mohapatra said. He had earlier put the number of missing at 10. The figure has been revised on the basis of the information provided by survivors, he said.
The overcrowded boat capsized in the Hirakud Dam reservoir in the state's Sambalpur district on Sunday afternoon. It was reportedly carrying over 100 people against a capacity of 70. Most of the passengers were picnickers from the Lion's Club of Sambalpur, Hirakud and Bargarh, returning from the other side of the reservoir. Eyewitnesses said the mechanized boat capsized in the middle of the reservoir after water entered it following a snag. The passengers tried to drain out the water from the boat, but in vain. Many of the picnickers also jumped off the boat in panic. They said the boat did not have basic safety measures.
The rescue and salvage operations have been instensified, with fire fighters, units of the Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force and a team of six scuba divers joining the crew on Monday. They have been trying to enter the boat to find the missing people.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has expressed grief and announced that his government will bear the cost of the survivors' treatment.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who is on a two-day tour of the state, will be visiting the accident site on Monday. "Rahul Gandhi will visit the accident site and review the situation there. He has made certain changes in his programme," OPCC president Jaydev Jena said.
Odisha's Revenue and Disaster Management Minister S N Patro and Finance Minister Prasanna Acharya have also rushed to the spot.