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, according to the district administrative authorities.

Home Secretary G.D. Gautama said 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 location of the trawler, however, has become the biggest challenge. “Survey vessels of the Kolkata Port Trust and the latest underwater echo technology fitted on Coast Guard hovercrafts are being used, and a tentative indication has been received. But unless the exact location is found, the trawler will continue posing a threat to other vehicles,” said Narayan Swarup Nigam, District Magistrate of South 24 Parganas.

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