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Srinagar: 6 Dead After Boat Carrying School Kids Capsizes In Jhelum River In Gandbal Nowgam

The water level of the Jhelum river had risen over the last couple of days due to incessant rains in the Kashmir valley.

Naseer Ganai/Outlook India
Rescue operation underway after a boat capsized in the Jhelum river, on the outskirts of Srinagar, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. Photo: Naseer Ganai/Outlook India
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At least six people were reported dead and several others were missing after a boat capsize incident in Jhelum river of Jammu and Kashmir's Srinagar on Tuesday. So far, four bodies have been recovered, while many others are missing, officials said.

Outlook India has learnt that the boat that overturned in the Jhelum river in Srinagar's Gandbal Nowgam area was carrying 26 passengers, including some school students. However, officials have not yet confirmed the exact number of people on the boat.

Deputy commissioner, Srinagar, Bilal Mohi-ud-Din Bhat, said six people have died and their bodies have been retrieved. "Six people have unfortunately died, while we have rescued six others -- out of which three are under treatment but stable. The rest three are at home," Bhat told reporters.

A rescue operation was underway on Tuesday, with the State Disaster Response Force team deployed at the site.

Rescue operation underway at Srinagar boat capsize site
Rescue operation underway at Srinagar boat capsize site Photo: Naseer Ganai/Outlook India
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Locals said that the boat was carrying people from Ganderbal to Batwara, adding that it capsized after colliding with one of the pillars of an incomplete bridge. The bridge has been under construction for the past 12 years.

Incessant Rains In J&K

Incessant rains in Jammu and Kashmir over the last couple of days have led to an increase in the water levels of several water bodies, including Jhelum. Four people were rescued from flash flood in Jammu and Kashmir's Mendhar as heavy rains lashed city.

The water level of the Jhelum river had also risen over the last couple of days due to incessant rains in the Kashmir valley.

An avalanche alert and orange alert for rain was sounded by the weather department for parts of Kashmir. An alert for an avalanche of 'medium' danger level was issued for Kupwara and Ganderbal districts on Saturday.

The weather department had issued an orange alert for heavy rainfall in the region between April 13 and 15.

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and many other leaders expressed grief over the loss of lives in the boat capsize incident.

"I am deeply grieved by the loss of lives due to a boat accident in Srinagar. My thoughts are with the bereaved families & I pray to the Almighty to give them strength to withstand this immense loss. Team of SDRF, Army & other agencies are carrying out relief & rescue work," Manoj Sinha said in a post on X.

The L-G said he is constantly monitoring the situation and guiding the team on the ground.

"The administration is providing all possible help to the bereaved families who have lost their near and dear ones and medical facilities to those who have been injured. Marcos teams have also been alerted. I am constantly monitoring the situation and guiding the team on the ground," Sinha said.

Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Bilal Mohi-ud-Din Bhat said the authorities had issued an alert on Monday asking people living near the embankments of the river to remain cautious.

"We issued an alert yesterday. I was touring the city till around midnight. The danger level of Jhelum in Ram Munshibagh (in Srinagar) is 18 feet. When the level crosses 10 feet, we issue an initial alert asking people living near the banks to remain cautious. (However), it was flowing below the danger level and the rain had also stopped around 10 pm last night," news agency PTI quoted Bhat as saying.

In response to a question whether the boat was overloaded, the deputy commissioner said, "We are looking into it".

Migrant Labourer Emerges A Hero

In the midst of sadness and sorrow, a migrant worker's courageous actions were commended. Dhoodhnath, who was staying at a rented place by the river, witnessed a boat sinking and bravely leapt into the water to rescue people.

"I saw the boat overturn. The current was strong but I rescued three people," he said later.

Survivors Share Experience

One survivor mentioned that the boat carried approximately 24 individuals, with the majority being children.

He said, "The ropes of the boat snapped and it hit one of the pillars of the under-construction bridge and broke into two. Many people drowned and three of us caught hold of the edges of the boat and somehow managed to save ourselves."

"A woman was also pulled out of the water and the four of us were rescued by another boat," he told reporters.

The man mentioned that the boat service is used daily by local residents, including children, to cross the river due to the lack of a bridge.

Kin of victims in the boat capsize in Srinagar.
Kin of victims in the boat capsize in Srinagar. Photo: S. Irfan/PTI
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Committee Formed For Water Transport Regulation Policy

Authorities here on Tuesday set up a committee to frame a policy for the regulation of water transport in the wake of a boat capsized in the Jhelum river, claiming six lives.

"Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Vijay Kumar Bidhuri today called an urgent meeting of officers of various departments to frame a strategy to avoid unfortunate incidents of boat capsizing in future and save precious lives," an official said.

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The divisional commissioner constituted a committee to frame a policy for the regulation of water transport. This team headed by Kashmir Additional Commissioner Qazi Sarwar comprises officers from the district administration and other departments concerned, the official said.

The divisional commissioner also directed for safety audit of all means of water transportation, he added.

"Besides, he issued directions to prohibit ferrying the passengers beyond the capacity of boats," the official said.

(With inputs from Outlook's Naseer Ganai in Srinagar and PTI)

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