Circle Officer missing in Assam boat mishap

Collision with a submerged post caused 28 people to sink in a channel of the Brahmaputra River in Dhubri district, said sources

September 29, 2022 10:10 pm | Updated 10:11 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Rescue operation underway after a boat capsized in the Brahmaputra river, in Dhubri district on September 29, 2022.

Rescue operation underway after a boat capsized in the Brahmaputra river, in Dhubri district on September 29, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

GUWAHATI

A Circle Officer was reported missing after a mechanised boat with 28 people on board sank in a channel of the Brahmaputra River in western Assam’s Dhubri district Thursday morning.

Officials in the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said the accident happened when the boat hit a submerged pillar under construction for the Dhubri-Phulbari bridge, to be India’s longest.

Dhubri Circle Officer Sanju Das was returning with a revenue official and an ASDMA field officer after inspecting an erosion-affected area. The other passengers were locals, including women and schoolchildren.

Some of the passengers swam to safety, others were rescued by locals and members of the State Disaster Response Force. A few injured people were admitted to a local hospital, officials said.

Dhubri’s Deputy Commissioner, Anbamuthan M.P. said an engineer of the firm constructing the bridge has been arrested for culpability in the accident. Locals said people are forced to use boats on a small channel of the Brahmaputra because the firm does not allow them to use a service bridge.

“While we are sparing no effort to find the Circle Officer, we shall be arresting more people from the firm as well as the owner of the boat,” Mr Anbamuthan told The Hindu.

He also said the firm should have marked the area around submerged pillars, although they could be given the benefit of doubt because of the increase of the water level over the past couple of days.

ASDMA officials said the rescue operation to find the missing Circle Officer was on with deep divers deployed. The damaged boat and some two-wheelers on it have been recovered, they added.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma prayed for the safety of the missing. “It was a country boat meant for ferrying cargo. I don’t know why the Circle Officer was on it,” he said.

Dhubri MP, Maulana Badruddin Ajmal demanded a probe into the incident.

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