Bengal trawler capsize: Toll now 20

Sunday, October 31, 2010

KAKDWIP - The death toll in the West Bengal trawler capsize rose to 20 after two more bodies were fished out Sunday, even as divers from the Indian Navy, coast guard and Kolkata Port Trust continued a massive search operation.

We have confirmed reports about two more bodies being found today. The death count is now twenty. We have received news that another corpse has been discovered, but that is yet to be confirmed, South 24 Parganas Dristrict Magistrate Narayan Swarup Nigam told IANS Sunday.

The trawler, ferrying mainly Muslim pilgrims to Kakdwip in South 24 Parganas from Hijli Sharif in East Midnapore district, capsized Saturday morning near the confluence of the Bay of Bengal and river Muriganga, near Ghoramara Island.

About 50 people have been rescued so far, of whom 32 have been admitted to the Kakdwip sub-divisional hospital. According to the survivors, the trawler capsized with around 150-250 passengers on board. Over a 100 are still missing.

The search operations resumed Sunday morning, after being halted Saturday night due to darkness. A helicopter was deployed, while a hovercraft explored the waters over a five kilometer area around the disaster spot.

The water is very turbulent in the area, and this has made the work of the divers difficult, Nigam said.

Coast Guard, Kolkata Port Trust and the disaster management wing of the state government are on the job,” said state Civil Defence Minister Srikumar Mukherjee, who was at the accident site.

Five navy divers were flown in from the Eastern Naval Command at Visakhapatnam.

Minister of State for Shipping Mukul Roy, who also went to the accident site, said sophisticated vessels have been pressed into service by his department.

Roy, however, accused the state government of having failed to put in place a proper disaster management system to tackle such tragedies.

Family members of the missing passengers, meanwhile, accused the administration of not doing enough to save the victims.

“What is the administration doing? If they had started the search operations little early on Saturday, many lives could have been saved,” said Mastafa Sheikh, whose brother was in the trawler and is still missing.

Earlier Sunday, Railways Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee condoled the deaths.

“It is really very sad that so many people have died in the trawler tragedy. I express my condolences to the family members of the dead and the injured,” said Mamata Banerjee, while addressing a railway programme at Anara in Purulia district.

She also said she would visit the place and meet the relatives of the victims Sunday evening.

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