PATNA, India – Two boats capsized in flooded rivers in eastern India's Bihar state during a major Hindu festival, killing at least 29 people and leaving around 22 missing, police said Tuesday.
At least 20 people swam to shore from one boat that was overcrowded with people returning to their homes after participating in festivities during the Dussehra festival, said Neelmani, a top state police official, who uses only one name.
Rescuers found the bodies of 21 people, including 16 children, Neelmani said, adding that those still missing might be male family members who swam to safety but had not been counted by authorities.
The boat capsized on the Kosi river near Alauli, a village nearly 125 miles north of Patna, the state capital, Neelmani said.
Hours later, another boat capsized on a river in Darbhanga district with 17 on board, he said.
Police recovered eight bodies and rescued eight people near Kuseshwar Sthan, a village nearly 90 miles north of Patna, Neelmani said.
Those on board were returning to their village after immersing an idol of a Hindu goddess in midstream as part of the religious festivities.
Divers were searching for one person reported missing, he said.
Boat accidents are common in India, where many vessels are unsafe and overloaded. Monsoon rains flood rivers between June and September every year.