Nine dead in India after bus and boating accidents

Most of boat’s passengers children crossing river to go school

Stuti Mishra
Tuesday 16 April 2024 13:57 BST
People carry coffins of victims who died after a boat overturned in the Jhelum river in Srinagar
People carry coffins of victims who died after a boat overturned in the Jhelum river in Srinagar (AFP via Getty Images)

A boat carrying a group of children going to school capsized on Monday in a river in the Indian side of Kashmir, leaving at least four people dead and many missing.

The boat was carrying at least 23 people, mostly children who were heading to their school, over the Jhelum river in the region’s main city, Srinagar.

“Around 15 people, several children among them, are missing after the accident,” a local official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Reports later said the number missing people stood at 19.

Rescuers were searching for survivors with at least 3 people still remaining missing on Tuesday, authorities said.

The water levels of the Jhelum river have been high in recent days due to incessant rainfall. The boat was being guided by a rope through its path across the river, however, fast-flowing water led to the rope being snapped, capsizing the vessel.

“Our rescue teams are there. We are ascertaining details of the incident,” Srinagar district magistrate Bilal Mohi-ud-Din Bhat told AFP.

People mourn at the funeral of their relatives who died after a boat overturned in the Jhelum river (AFP via Getty Images)

Photos and videos on social media show dozens of locals gathered near the site of the accident helping with rescue efforts. A crowd of hundreds of people gathered to carry the coffins of children.

Eyewitness Firdous Ahmed Lone said he heard people crying for help and he rushed to save them.“I pulled out four of them from the river, but they were already dead,” Mr Lone told The Associated Press.

People gather along the bank of the Jhelum river as National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel (L) conduct a rescue and search operation after a boat ferrying people capsized in Srinagar (AFP via Getty Images)

Boating accidents are common in the region’s treacherous waters where many commuters opt for the water route to avoid road traffic.

However, vessels are often overcrowded and have inadequate safety equipment. Boating accidents are also common in India.

Last year, 22 people drowned when a double-decker boat carrying more than 30 passengers capsized near a beach in Kerala state in southern India.

In May 2018, 30 people died when their boat capsized on the swollen Godavari River in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

In India’s eastern state of Odisha, at least five people were killed and around 38 injured after a bus carrying around 50 passengers skidded off a flyover on the National Highway 16 near the Jajpur district.

“Four men and a woman have died in the accident. The driver lost control of the vehicle. The injured were taken to the Cuttack SCB Medical College,” the Hindustan Times quoted Tapan Kumar Naik, inspector in-charge of Dharamshala police station, as saying.

Additional reporting by agencies.

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