Bengal trawler tragedy toll rises to 66 (Third Lead)

Monday, November 1, 2010

KAKDWIP - The death count in the West Bengal trawler capsize in the Muriganga river shot up to 66 Monday as divers and locals fished out 43 more bodies during search operations. Sixty-five people are still missing.

“The death toll is now 66,” South 24-Parganas Superintendent of Police L.N. Meena told IANS.

The trawler ferrying 220 people, mainly Muslim pilgrims, to Kakdwip in South 24-Parganas from Hijli Sharif in East Midnapore district, capsized Saturday morning in the mouth of Muriganga river where it empties into the Bay of Bengal.

“The corpses have been sent to the Kakdwip sub-divisional hospital for post mortem. Eighty-nine people have been rescued. But we are assuming that a few others have also been saved by villagers at different places,” Sundarbans Development Minister Kanti Ganguly told IANS over phone from the accident spot.

As more than 48 hours have passed since the trawler capsized in the river near Ghoramara island, 150 km south of Kolkata, all the bodies were bloated and disfigured.

The search operations involved divers from the Indian Navy, the coast guard and the Kolkata Port Trust. The divers worked tirelessly despite a strong water current and low visibility due to a cloud cover. “This hampered the work of the divers,” an official said.

The search was called off for the day after dusk and would resume Tuesday.

Two of the bodies were swept 20 km away from the spot, before locals fished them out at Nayachar in East Midnapore district, said Zila Parishad President Ranjit Mondal. Two more bodies were recovered by the coast guard near Ghoramara.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Sunday held a high-level meeting at Kakdwip and reviewed search operations.

Later Sunday, Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee visited the area and met the family members of victims.

A helicopter and a hovercraft have been deployed to help in the search.

Hundreds of people are thronging the Kakdwip sub-divisional hospital and the banks of the Muriganga in search of their relatives.

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