At least 26 people, mostly children and women, were drowned and 50 others missing after two boats carrying Durga Puja revellers capsized in the swollen Bagmati and Kamala Balan rivers in Bihar, police said on Tuesday.
Eighteen people drowned and 45-50 others were missing after an overcrowded country boat, carrying over 100 people, sank in the Bagmati river near Fultora ghat in Khagaria last evening, Superintendent of Police, Indranand Mishra said. The passengers were returning after a Vijaya Dashami fair.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel have recovered 18 bodies, mostly of minors and women, he said adding the rescue operation was on.
In another mishap, eight people died when a boat carrying 17 people sank in Kamala Balan river in Darbhanga district last evening during immersion of an idol of Goddess Durga.
While nine people swam to safety, the others died and their bodies have been recovered.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 1.50 lakh to the families of each of the deceased.
The boat mishaps acquired a political hue with opposition RJD and LJP attacking the State government for its alleged failure to stop overcrowding of boats.
RJD spokesman Shakeel Ahmed Khan demanded a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to dependents of each of the deceased, besides a government job to an eligible member of the bereaved families.
LJP chief chief Ram Vilas Paswan blamed the Bihar government for its "carelessness" which led to the tragedy. He too demanded a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of each of the deceased.