Three persons, including two children, were killed and 42 others feared drowned when an overcrowded boat capsized in the turbulent Gandak river in Bihar’s West Champaran district on Friday.

State Disaster Management Department Principal Secretary Vyasji said in Patna that the boat, with more than 65 passengers on board, capsized near Ghoria Ghat under Srinagar police station of the district while sailing to Bhagwanpur from Ranha village.

Three bodies have so far been fished out, but several others were feared drowned.

According to eyewitnesses, around 20-25 passengers swam to safety while the other drowned.

Mr. Vyasiji said he has asked the West Champaran District Magistrate to approach his East Champaran counterpart for requisitioning the services of more than 25 trained divers.

Search and rescue operations are on.

Expressing grief over the tragedy, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ordered a probe by the District Magistrate of East Champaran.

He announced that the State government would provide compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh — Rs 1 lakh from the State government and Rs 50,000 from the CM’s relief fund — to each bereaved family.