The death toll following the capsize of an overloaded trawler in the Muriganga river in West Bengal's South 24 Parganas district reached 81 on Wednesday, with five more bodies recovered during the day.

Though rescue teams have almost given up hope of finding any survivors, the focus is now on recovering bodies and locating and retrieving the trawler before it becomes completely covered with silt, according to district administrative authorities.

Meanwhile, State Home Secretary G.D. Gautama told journalists at the State Secretariat that the trawler, which had a capacity of around 80, was carrying three times more passengers on the day of the mishap.

With 93 persons rescued, around 72 still remained untraced, Mr. Gautama added.

Biggest challenge

Identifying the exact location of the capsized trawler, however, has become the biggest challenge for the rescue team now.

“Survey vessels of the Kolkata Port Trust and the latest underwater echo technology fitted on Coast Guard hovercrafts are being used for the purpose, and a tentative indication has been received. But unless the exact location is found, the capsized trawler will continue posing a threat to other vehicles crossing the path,” said Narayan Swarup Nigam, District Magistrate of South 24 Parganas district.

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