India boat tragedy: At least 24 dead in Bihar, PM Modi announces compensation

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has ordered an inquiry and directed the officials to discontinue kite flying celebrations.

Bihar boat tragedy: At least 24 dead, PM Modi announces compensation
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Reuters

At least 24 died, including minors, after a boat ferrying more than 50 people capsized in the Ganges river in India's eastern state of Bihar on Saturday. The rescue teams are still searching for missing persons and three teams from the National Disaster Response Force are assisting in the rescue operations.

The state Disaster Management Minister Chandrashekhar said the incident took place when the boat was on its way back from Sabalpur Diara to Gandhi Ghat. Hundreds of people gathered at Sablpur Diara, 2 km from across Patna, to witness a kite-flying festival that marks a harvest festival.

He said survivors are being treated at the Patna Medial College & Hospital. Ten to 12 people managed to swim to safety.

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has ordered an inquiry and directed the officials to discontinue kite flying celebrations as part of the Makar Sankranti festivities at Sabalpur Diara. However, the Opposition BJP in Patna blamed the lack of preparation by the tourism department and local administration for the mishap.

"Arrangements should have been more robust, inquiry will expose loopholes and defaulters will be caught," Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told ANI, a news agency.

The Prime Minister's Office tweeted: "PM expressed grief on the loss of lives caused by the boat tragedy in Bihar. He extended condolences to the bereaved families."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Sunday that an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakhs will be given to the families of those deceased and Rs 50,000 for those who are seriously injured in the accident.

The State Disaster Management department Secretary Pratyaya Amrit earlier said that a compensation of Rs 4 lakhs would be given to the next of kin of each deceased.