More than 60 feared drowned in India boat capsize

Updated: 2007-01-20 09:45

HYDERABAD, India, Jan 19 - More than 60 people returning home from a Hindu festival in southern India were feared drowned after their overcrowded boat capsized and sank while crossing a river, police said on Friday.

The accident occurred on Thursday on the Krishna river in Mehboobnagar district of Andhra Pradesh state, 180 km (110 miles) southwest of the state capital, Hyderabad.

District police chief K. Srinivas Reddy said 66 people, including 30 women and children, were missing and feared drowned.

Divers and helicopters scoured the river for bodies until nightfall forced rescuers to suspend the search operation. They said it would resume on Saturday morning.

Reddy said there were more than 70 people on the crowded boat when it sank 100 metres (330 ft) from the bank in deep water.

"So far we have recovered the bodies of 13 people including a woman and two children," he added. Some of the younger passengers were able to swim to safety, but the elderly and many women and children were among the missing, he said.

Authorities said divers found a further nine bodies, including those of two women and four children, late on Friday.

A survivor told Reuters by telephone he swam to safety along with his 12-year-old son but lost his daughter and wife.

"I watched helplessly as my wife and daughter drowned a few metres away," the man, who gave his name as Maddisetti, said from a government hospital in Kollapur, a nearby town.

He said the boat was so crowded just before it sank that passengers had to grab hold of each other to prevent people falling overboard.

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