At least seven bodies, including that of a woman and a young girl, were recovered Wednesday while search for over a dozen other missing persons was on after a boat capsized off Betwara ghat in Ganga between Varanasi and Mirzapur districts Tuesday afternoon.
Huge nets have been thrown at Samney Ghat and further downstream at Rajghat to fish out the bodies, officials said.
The divers of the National Disaster Response Force and the PAC were continuing with the search and rescue operations.
A helpline has also been established in this regard at Chunar.
Meanwhile, an FIR has been registered against the boatman, who swam to safety, and the contractor, who was supervising the plying of the boat.
Officials said apart from over 40 people, who were on board, some motorcycles were also loaded on the boat.
Sub-Divisional Magistrate (Chunar), Mirzapur, A K Kanaujia, who is overseeing the operations at the Mirzapur side, said: “As per information so far, around 42 people were on board, besides a few motorcycles. Bodies of seven persons have been recovered. A hunt is on for nearly 12 others. The rest managed to swim out safely yesterday.”
Most of the bodies recovered were of residents of Gangpur village, while a few others were of Shivpur, Bagahi and other some other neighbouring villages.
Circle Officer (Chunar), Pradeep Verma, said: “An FIR under Section 280 (rash navigation of vehicle), 282 (conveying person by water for hire in unsafe or overloaded vessel) and 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code has been registered against the boatman, identified as Santosh Manjhi, and the contractor. His name is being ascertained.
“The FIR has been registered on the basis of a complaint lodged by Sanjay Yadav, a resident of Shivpur village, who was among the survivors on Tuesday. No arrests have been made so far.”
Official sources claimed that the boat, which had the capacity to carry around 25 persons, was not only carrying over 40 persons, but also more than a dozen bicycles and around half-a-dozen motorcycles. Further, the boat apparently did not have a proper licence, which is issued by the zila panchayat, sources added.
However, senior officials said the facts in this regard were yet to be verified.
“We are busy with the relief and rescue operations. We are trying hard to recover the bodies. Whether the boat had a genuine licence or not is a matter of investigation,” said Additional District Magistrate (City), Varanasi, M P Singh.