Ferry Carrying 350 Capsizes in India Leaving 103 Dead, Scores Missing

Rescue efforts continued overnight as over 100 remained missing following a ferry accident in India. (Photo: Dawn)

Rescue efforts continued overnight as over 100 remained missing following a ferry accident in India. (Photo: Dawn)

A ferry carrying an estimated 350 people capsized in India late Monday, leaving over 100 dead and scores of passengers missing. The double-decker ship was met with heavy winds and rain while sailing on Assam’s Brahmaputra river, leading it to break into two pieces.

Approximately 150 of those on board were rescued or managed to swim to safety, according to initial reports. The accident took place near Fakiragram in west Dubri, about 215 miles west of state capital Gauhati, where vessels are a common method of transportation.

But safety regulations continue to plague ferry travel in the subcontinent, with similar incidents taking place as recently as April when a ferry capsized in Bangladesh leaving over 30 dead. Monday’s disaster was a testament to a familiar scene: overcrowding of people and goods, and no lifeboats or life vests.

Rescuers, including members of the army and Border Security Force, said their efforts were significantly affected by poor weather conditions. Because the ship was not far from Bangladesh, Indian authorities are said to have contacted Bengali officials to help search for any other survivors.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the accident a “tragedy”. In an official statement, Singh expressed his condolences to those affected and their loved ones and said he was “shocked and grieved to know about the loss of lives”. The PM also issued instructions for all of the necessary assistance to the government of Assam for relief efforts.

This post will be updated as more details become available. Stay tuned.

Sabrina Siddiqui is the editor-in-chief of Divanee.com.

@sabrinasiddiqui