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17 missing in WB boat capsize
Kolkata, Jan 4 (IANS):
Published on 4 Jan. 2010 10:38 PM IST
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A day after a boat carrying a group of picnickers capsized in the Rupnarayan river in West Bengal’s East Midnapore district, 17 people including eight children continued to be missing Monday. Twenty picnickers were either rescued by locals or swam ashore after the boat capsized around 3 p.m. Sunday. “We’ve got altogether 17 names and all of them are still missing. No body has been recovered so far,” East Midnapore district magistrate Choten Lama told reporters Monday. She said: “Search operation is on with the help of the Haldia Coast Guard, Border Security Force (BSF) and Kolkata Police’s disaster management teams.” “We’ve also involved local youth in the search operation in the river. The members of two local organisations - Sanket Club and Kolaghat Athletic Club - helped a lot in carrying out the rescue drive,” a senior district police officer said, adding that no body has been found till this (Monday) morning. The picnickers from Ultadanga in north Kolkata were having a joyride on the boat when it capsized. Eyewitnesses said rescue work was hampered Sunday in the absence of divers as the state river traffic policemen could not contact those on their payroll. Local residents alleged that no steps were taken to help the victims after the over-laden boat capsized in the river. “We have made some arrangement for the picnickers at our club house and also deployed a few local youths in the search operation. We are trying to provide all kinds of help to the victims’ families,” an eyewitness said. Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee who reached the spot, along with other leaders of the Trinamool Congress including union Minister of State for Shipping Mukul Roy and Minister of State for Rural Development Sisir Adhikari, slammed the state government for its tardy response to the tragedy. “It is already too late. If the rescue operations had been launched earlier, more people could have been saved,” she said. She alleged the state government had no disaster management plan.

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