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One person has been reported dead while two others are missing following a boat accident in Assam on Wednesday, 8 September.
Two passenger boats with around 120 passengers had collided in at Nimati Ghat in Assam's Jorhat on Wednesday. One of the had boats had capsized after the collision.
So far, one person, a 23-year-old woman, has been reported dead. She had been rescued from the river but was declared brought dead by doctors at Jorhat Medical College and Hospital, according to SP Jorhat Ankur Jain.
The deceased, Porimita Das from Guwahati, was employed as faculty in a college in Majuli.
Reacting to the accident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet, "Saddened by the boat accident in Assam. All possible efforts are being made to rescue the passengers."
A government passenger ferry of the Inland Water Transport department was coming from the river island of Majuli to Nimati Ghat, while the other boat was going in the opposite direction.
One of the ferries, 'Ma Kamala', had 120 people onboard and the passengers were moving from Nimatighat to Kamalabari.
Videos from the accident showed the boat capsizing, while the passengers' luggage along with 35 vehicles on the boat were lost in the river.
RESCUE OPERATIONS UNDERWAY
The State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) officials had reached the spot on Wednesday. The NDRF was also subsequently engaged.
87 people have been rescued so far by the disaster management forces who are conducting rescue operations at the site of the accident, news agency ANI reported, citing Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA).
Jorhat's Superintendent of Police Ankur Jain on Thursday said that a search operation is still going on for the two missing persons, with the help of divers from the NDRF and SDRF, and with the backup of the army.
"The divers on Thursday morning also went inside the boat, but could not find any body. Army divers will also search the area. Air Force will carry out an aerial survey downstream to locate the missing persons," he was quoted as saying by PTI.
WHAT DID THE ASSAM CM SAY?
Reacting to the news of the accident, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma directed the district administration of Majuli and Jorhat districts to carry out the rescue mission expeditiously with the help of the National Disaster Response Force and SDRF.
He said in a tweet on Wednesday, "I am pained at the tragic boat accident near Nimati Ghat, Jorhat."
Later, while addressing a press briefing, Sarma said:
"We have located the boat that capsized, it is located 1.5 kilometers from the spot. We will have to cut open its top portion, only then can we reach under it. NDRF and SDRF are making arrangements for it."
In the wake of the accident, Sarma, on Thursday, announced that single-engine private boats are henceforth banned from operating to Majuli, as per a PTI report. The government will provide subsidy for the purchase of marine engines, he added.
A high level probe has been called into the accident to ascertain the cause behind the mishap, PTI reported, citing the chief minister. The police has been directed to file a criminal case in relation to the incident.
Sarma, on Wednesday, had said that the PM telephoned him to enquire about the progress of rescue operations at Nimati Ghat and the conditions of those with injuries.
He was quoted as saying, "I apprised the PM with all the details. Also informed that all of us are minutely monitoring the ground situation," ANI reported.
Home Minister Amit Shah, on Wednesday, spoke to CM Sarma to take stock of the situation. Sarma said, “He said the Central government is ready to lend all possible help," NDTV reported.
State minister Bimal Bora was also directed to travel to Majuli and take stock of the situation. Sarma added that he will visit Nimati Ghat on Thursday, 8 September, to evaluate the situation.
The incident took place in Nimati ghat between Majuli and Jorhat. As per Kaziranga National Park Officials, the water there was still above the danger level.
Meanwhile, three officials of the inland water transport (IWT) department have been placed under suspension for purported negligence of duty, while senior ministers admitted to lapses and said that the "guilty" will be punished, PTI reported.
The ASDMA has activated helpline numbers for communication of information pertaining to the accident. These are 1070, 1079 and 1077.
(With inputs from ANI, NDTV, PTI)