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 the hope of finding any survivors, the focus is on recovering bodies and locating the trawler before it becomes completely covered with silt, according to the district administrative authorities.

Home Secretary G.D. Gautama told journalists that the trawler, which had a capacity of 80, was carrying three times more passengers. With 93 persons rescued, 72 still remained untraced.

The trawler was carrying pilgrims from Hijli Sharif in Purba Medinipur district to Kakdwip in South 24 Parganas district when it capsized.

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,” Narayan Swarup Nigam, District Magistrate of South 24 Parganas district, said.

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