Waves created by a passing ship believed to have toppled it midstream in the Muriganga river

Altogether 18 bodies have so far been recovered even as scores remained missing when a trawler carrying at least 100 men, women and children capsized in the Muriganga river, about 20 km from the Sagar Islands off the Bay of Bengal.

West Bengal Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) S. Kar Purakayashta told The Hindu that 18 bodies have so far been recovered.

Mist, poor visibility

He said that poor visibility amid an evening mist disrupted rescue operations. Helicopters from the Indian Coast Guard and Navy divers were being pressed into service.

Army officials said that following the West Bengal government's request, divers were being requisitioned from the Eastern Naval Command in Vizag.

50 people rescued

Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh told reporters at the Secretariat that 50 people have been rescued alive and have been taken to the hospital. He said that the Inspector General South Bengal and Deputy Inspector General, Presidency Range, have been asked to go to the site at Ghoramara in South 24 Parganas district. The officials of East Medinipur — from where the trawler was coming — have also been asked to go the spot.

Special control room

A special control room has been opened at the site. A team from the National Disaster Management Cell is expected to arrive on Sunday.

West Bengal Sundarbans Affairs Minister Kanti Ganguly, who was among the first to reach the spot, said that efforts were on to maintain the rescue operations, using search lights but strong currents were hampering search efforts. A hovercraft and a helicopter were scouring the swirling waters for any trace of survivors.

The overcrowded trawler was ferrying its passengers from Khejuri in East Medinipur and the waves created by a passing ship is believed to have toppled the vessel midstream.