Bihar Boat Tragedy: Death toll climbs to 24; Nitish Kumar expresses grief

Patna, Jan 15: The bodies of four more persons were recovered today from the river Ganga taking the toll in the boat tragedy here to 24.

Around 40 people were said to be onboard the country boat when it capsized near NIT ghat last evening. 

When asked whether there could be more bodies lying in the river, Principal Secretary (Disaster Management) Pratyaya Amrit told PTI that hopes were fading, but rescue works by the SDRF/NDRF teams were still going on. 

"No more family has come forward to claim about missing kin in the boat tragedy," he said.

The revellers were returning to Ranighat in Patna from Sabalpur diara (riverine area) across the river after watching a kite festival on the occasion of 'Makar Sankranti'.

The boat had been retrieved from the Ganga, the senior official said adding it was intact in one piece. 

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed grief over the boat tragedy and ordered a high level probe into the incident.

He further directed the officials to provide ex-gratia assistance of Rs four lakh each to the next of kin of the victims at the earliest.

Kumar also directed the Principal Secretary (Disaster Management) Pratyaya Amrit, Central Range DIG Shalin and Patna's District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar Agrawal to carry out rescue operations at war footing and make proper arrangement of treatment at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH)of those persons rescued from the river after the boat tragedy.

The boat tragedy has also led to cancellation of various engagements with the ruling JD(U) scrapping 'dahi-chura' feast that its state unit president Bashistha Narayan Singh was scheduled to host today.

Another function scheduled for the day to mark the start of redevelopment work of the dilapidated Mahatma Gandhi Setu which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to address via video conferencing from the national capital was also postponed, the state unit BJP President Nityanand Rai said.