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Odisha boat tragedy: Death toll rises to 9, govt orders probe


Paradip/Bhubaneswar, Jan 3: The death toll in the boat capsize tragedy in Mahanadi river rose to nine on Thursday with the recovery of eight more bodies in Odisha's Kendrapara district, while the state government ordered a probe into the incident.

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While the body of a woman was found shortly after the incident took place Wednesday evening, eight bodies were recovered during a search operation in the early hours of Thursday, officials said.

"Altogether nine bodies have been recovered, while a 6-year-old girl is still missing," Kendrapara District Collector Dasarathy Satpathy said.

The incident took place when the mechanised boat ferrying passengers capsized in the Mahanadi river Wednesday apparently after losing balance, the collector said. Expressing deep grief, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Thursday announced ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased, officials said.

Patnaik had on Wednesday night instructed the administration and search teams to expedite rescue operations. Stating that an inquiry has been ordered into the accident, Commerce and Transport Minister Nrusingha Charan Sahu said senior officials of the Port and Inland Water Transport have gone to the spot to ascertain the circumstances under which the incident took place.

They will also ascertain whether the boat had proper licence and registration. The team will submit a report within a week, after which appropriate action will be taken, Sahu said. Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) B P Sethi said the boat which capsized was meant for fishing activity and not for carrying passengers.

As per available information, the boat did not have any life jacket, he said. The deceased included two women, aged between 40 and 45, and seven children (7 to 10 years), the collector said. The victims were residents of Hasina village in Kujang area of Jagatsinghpur district. Fire brigade personnel and members of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), along with Coast Guard teams and local fishermen, carried out the rescue and search operations, Satpathy added.

The victims were returning after a picnic at the light house in Hukitola when the mechanised boat capsized apparently after losing balance in the Batighar creek under the jurisdiction of the Mahakalpada police station.

Police said the boatman of the fishing vessel was questioned in Mahakalapada in connection with the incident. Meanwhile, residents of Hasina village staged a blockade on the Paradip-Cuttack and the Paradip-Chandikhole roads at Bhutmundai near here, demanding adequate compensation for the families of the deceased, police said.


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