At least 56 die after boat capsizes in eastern India

At least 56 die after boat capsizes in eastern IndiaNew Delhi  - The death toll in a boat tragedy in India's eastern state of Bihar rose to 56 Wednesday with 37 more bodies being recovered overnight, officials said.

The overcrowded boat capsized in the Bagmati River in Khagaria district, 200 kilometres west of state capital Patna. The victims, all villagers, were returning from a fair marking the conclusion of the Hindu Durga Puja festival on Monday night.

"Rescue teams found bodies of 19 people in the operations until Tuesday evening. But 37 more bodies were recovered after we started using large fishing nets and pressed in more divers in the effort," Mahendra Choudhary, a district official said over the phone.

The victims were mostly women and children. "Of the 48 bodies identified till now, 10 were women and 32 were children, boys and girls," Choudhary said.

The overcrowded boat encountered torrential rain and gusty winds midstream and capsized, the police said.

It was not clear how many passengers were on the boat but at least 25 people swam to safety, local police said.

Senior police official Ajay Pandey said witnesses estimated there were some 100 villagers on the vessel which had a capacity to carry up to 50 people.

The death toll could rise as the rescue operations continue, officials said. A team of divers assisted by local police were searching for missing people but it was unlikely there would be survivors since the accident occurred on Monday night. (dpa)