Over 200 people were feared dead in a major ferry incident in the northeast Indian state of Assam Monday evening, with 103 people confirmed dead from drowning while over 100 still remained missing after an over-packed double-decked steamer with 300 passengers capsized in the fast flowing Brahmaputra river amid a heavy storm.
The Press Trust of India quoted Indian National Disaster Relief Force head Alok Jha as saying the bodies of 103 victims, including women and children, were recovered by the Border Security Force and the National Disaster Relief Force personnel near Jaleswar of the Bhubri district in western Assam.
Locals and others try to fish out the ferry from the water at Dhubti in Assam, India on May 1, 2012. Rescuers sitting on rubber boats Tuesday crisscrossed on the wide water to look for possible survivors of a doomed ferry, which capsized and sank in northeast India's turbulent Brahmaputra River, leaving at least 100 drowned and some 200 missing. (Xinhua)
Dhubri district Police Deputy commissioner Kumud Chandra Kalita told the media about 25 people swam to safety, while 35 people were later rescued.
The ferry was crossing the river from Dhubrighat, a fishing town, to Medartary in the south bank of the gigantic river when it capsized amid storm at 16:20 p.m. local time.
The Indian Army, Navy, Border Security Force, National Disaster Force and police armed with mechanized boats have launched a massive rescue operation in the river, which was forced to suspend after darkness, bad weather and strong current made it impossible to search for survivors.
Indian President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh both expressed grief over the loss of life while the Prime Minister ordered assistance to the Assam state government for relief and fund for families of the dead.
Meanwhile, 12 people went missing Monday also on the Brahmaputra river in another boat capsize at Jaleswar amid the storm, according to media reports.
Boat capsize takes place from time to time in India due to overloading of passengers, bad condition of the boats or steamers, and hostile river and weather conditions.