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Odisha boat capsize death toll rises to 8, search ends

Bhubaneswar: The death toll in the capsizing of the Mahanadi riverboat in Odisha’s Jharsuguda district has risen to eight. Another six bodies were recovered on Saturday, an official said on Saturday.

The search operation, which was underway since Friday evening, came to an end after the body of a male child was recovered from the Hirakud reservoir in the Mahanadi river, the official said, adding that the victims included five women and three children goods.

The victims, all from Anjoripali village of Kharsia in Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh, were identified as Radhika Nishad (40), Teras Bai Rathia (60), Radhika Rathia (35), Ghasneen Bai Rathia (40) and Lacchinin Bai Rathia (40). 40), while the children were identified as Kunal Rathia (9), Nabin Rathia (7) and Tikeswar Rathia (7).

Personnel of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force and Fire Services, who launched a search operation immediately after the boat capsized on Friday, recovered six more bodies from the Mahanadi river by deploying five divers, an official said.

“Five divers with underwater cameras in their headgear joined the search and discovered the bodies,” the official said.

Revenue department commissioner (RDC) Srikanta Prusty, Jharsuguda district collector Aboli S Naravane and SP Smit P Parmar camped on the river bank to monitor the search operation.

The incident took place on Friday afternoon when around 50 passengers were returning in the boat after visiting a temple at Patharseni Kuda in Odisha’s Bargarh district. The boat capsized when it was about to reach Sarada Ghat in Jharsuguda’s Rengali area, a police officer said.

Rajkumar Gavel, a Chhattisgarh government official, said about 50 people were returning from a picnic on the other side of the river when the accident occurred.

Loknath Meher, the Motor Vehicle Inspector (MVI) of Jharsuguda district, said: “The boat was not registered and was deemed unfit for use. Moreover, the boat had no life jackets on board. Despite being designed for only 20 persons, it had 50 people on board, which ultimately resulted in the accident.” Local fishermen rescued 40 passengers and brought them to shore, he said.

Meanwhile, the Chhattisgarh government has made arrangements for transportation of bodies, sources said.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed his condolences and declared an ex gratia payment of ₹4 lakh to the subsequent families of each victim.

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