The police announced on Thursday that two out of the 90 passengers on a ferry that sank after a mid-river collision with a larger ferry on the Brahmaputra on Wednesday had been rescued.
After the collision at 4.15 p.m. off Nimatighat in eastern Assam’s Jorhat district, a woman identified as a 28-year-old teacher died on her way to the hospital.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have dispatched 31 rescue boats and 208 personnel, including 39 deep divers, to search for the missing people, according to officials.
What does Assam’s Director-General of Police have to say about the incident?
“We have alerted the police in the districts downstream of the Brahmaputra to try and rescue the missing persons. The Army has also pitched in, helping with rescue operations throughout the night,” Assam’s Director-General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said.
“Altogether, 87 people have either been rescued or traced alive,” Jorhat’s Superintendent of Police Ankur Jain said.
No one was trapped; three authorities have been suspended
After cutting through the capsized ferry, the NDRF and SDRF teams found no one trapped, according to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority.
Three officers were suspended by the Inland Water Transport Department as a result of the disaster. Ferries are run by this department, however it is well known that they do not adhere to safety requirements or give tickets to passengers in order to keep track of them.
How did the incident happen?
At about 3.30 p.m, a small boat capsized after colliding with a larger ferry coming from the opposite direction about 350 metres off the Nimatighat ferry point. IST
42 people onboard the smaller boat ‘Maa Kamala,’ which had set sail from Nimatighat for Kamalabari ferry point in Majuli “island,” swam to safety or were rescued, according to Jorhat district officials. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force saved all passengers on the larger boat ‘Tipkai’, which was en route to Neamatighat from Kamalabari (SDRF).
Local officials stated NDRF and SDRF officers were searching for those who had been dragged downstream by the river’s current.
Capacity of the ferry and total number of passengers
The Inland Water Transport Department manages the ferries on the Brahmaputra. Passengers pay the fare onboard, but officials couldn’t say how many people were on the doomed ferry because no tickets were issued.
The mechanised ferries can transport 70 to 80 passengers as well as cars, most of which are two-wheelers. Locals, however, estimate that most ships carry between 100 and 120 passengers. The capsized ferry sank about 30 two-wheelers.
During the monsoon months, when the Brahmaputra is swollen, ferries are the only form of transportation between Majuli and Jorhat districts, and the journey is often dangerous.
For the most part of the year, Majuli is reachable by road from the Brahmaputra’s northern bank. Majuli is the world’s largest human-inhabited river island. Hundreds of people use ferries and country boats to commute from the island to Neematighat in Jorhat, on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra River.