35 dead, 165 feared missing in India ferry boat accident
GAUHATI, India – A packed ferry boat capsized in heavy winds and rain in remote northeastern India late Monday, leaving at least 35 people dead and 165 others feared missing, police said.
Assam state police chief J.N. Choudhury said the boat was carrying about 350 passengers and broke into two pieces. About 150 people who were traveling on the top level were rescued or swam to safety, he said. Details were sketchy because bad weather and the remoteness of the area hampered communication.
Choudhury said the accident occurred on the Brahmaputra river near Fakiragram in west Dhubri district. The area is about 215 miles west of the state capital, Gauhati, and close to where the river enters Bangladesh. He said officials in that country had been contacted for help.
The area is dotted with riverside settlements and small islands, and boats are the most common mode of transport. Most ferries are overcrowded, with little regard for safety regulations.
Strong winds and rain likely caused the accident, Choudhury said. Police and paramilitary soldiers were sent to help local villagers with rescue efforts, he said.