A boat carrying dozens of passengers sank in the Brahmaputra river in the northeast Indian state of Assam after it collided with another ferry on Wednesday, leading to the death of at least one person.
While Jorhat deputy commissioner Ashok Kumar Barman on Wednesday told Reuters that they suspect the number of people on board to be anywhere between 60 and 120, but the tally was revised to 87 on Thursday.
“Of the total passengers, one woman who was rescued died later in hospital, 84 others have been rescued or accounted for and two others are missing. Rescue operations, which continued till late Wednesday night have resumed again on Thursday morning,” Mr Barman told the Hindustan Times.
The cause behind the head-on collision was not immediately clear. One of the boats, a government passenger ferry of the Inland Water Transport department, was coming from the river island district of Majuli when it collided with the boat going in the opposite direction, reported NDTV.
The second boat was pulled ashore following the collision that occurred near Nimati Ghat, a river port located about 350 km from Guwahati, the capital of Assam.
The deceased, identified as Parimita Das, was a resident of Guwahati and was working as a lecturer at a college in Majuli, while two missing persons are Jaan Baruah and Dr Bikramjit Baruah. They lived in Lakhimpur and Jorhat respectively, reported the Hindustan Times.
According to NDTV, the state government has suspended three officials of the inland water transport department after the incident.
India’s prime minister Narendra Modi and the state’s chief minister have offered their condolences.
“Saddened by the boat accident in Assam. All possible efforts are being made to rescue the passengers. I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being,” said the prime minister on Twitter.
"I am pained at the tragic boat accident near Nimati Ghat, Jorhat. Directed Majuli & Jorhat admin to undertake rescue mission expeditiously," tweeted Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
The chief minister, who also visited the site of the accident today, directed a “high level inquiry” and ordered the district administration “to register a criminal case on the accident”.
He also met the injured and the family of the deceased. “I’m deeply pained at the demise of Ms Parimita Das of Kahilipara, Guwahati, whom we lost in the boat accident,” he tweeted. “[Government of Assam] stands by her family in this hour of grief and promises to extend all needful support. I shall be meeting her parents soon. May her soul rest in peace.”
President Ram Nath Kovind and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also extended their condolences.
Additional reporting from the wires