With the recovery of 13 more bodies on Monday, the toll in the boat capsize incident in the Hirakud reservoir m in Odisha’s Sambalpur district rose to 24 even as efforts were on to trace at least seven other missing persons.
The bodies were found as scuba divers were engaged in the morning to trace the missing persons after the boat capsized on Sunday, Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra told PTI.
“The number of missing persons might vary with additional information being received from local people,” Mr Mohapatra said. The scuba divers also located the sunken boat.
The state government has announced Rs 1.5 lakh ex-gratia for the family members of the dead and free treatment for the survivors.An administrative inquiry by Sambalpur’s revenue divisional commissioner has been ordered.
Our correspondent adds:
In wake of the boat tragedy, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who is on a two-day-long tour to the State, re-scheduled his programme and decided to fly down to Sambalpur to take stock of the situation.
Thousands of people had gathered on reservoir bank even as frenetic search operations were on. Prasanna Acharya, the Lok Sabha member from Sambalpur constituency and Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Surya Narayan Patro also left for the district. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has ordered a Revenue Divisional Commissioner-level inquiry into the boat tragedy.
“We are intensifying our search operation in the reservoir to rescue any survivor of the tragedy. We will also take the help of aerial survey to locate if anybody is stranded inside the reservoir,” said Sambalpur Superintendent of Police Prateek Mohanty over phone on Monday.
Till late evening on Sunday, rescue operation was continued by use of search lights and specially trained personnel of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF). “We are also deploying deep divers for (locating) missing persons on Monday. Besides, an ODRAF team has been asked to start searching operation from the side of Jharsuguda,” said Mr. Mohanty.
A 118-member team of Sambalpur Lion’s Club had gone on a picnic from Sambalpur to Chhapabada, on the other side of reservoir, in a boat. In the afternoon when they were returning to Sambalpur, the boat they boarded became over-crowded as some local persons also got on the boat.