At least 16 people died and another 10, including women and children, went missing when a motor boat carrying over 100 passengers capsized Sunday in Hirakud reservoir in western Orissa district of Sambalpur. The dead were members of Sambalpur Lion’s Club.
The boat carrying a large group of picnickers capsized after its engine stopped functioning and it developed leaks, said Orissa special relief commissioner P K Mohapatra. Mohapatra said the number of people in the boat exceeded the boat’s capacity of 70. It also did not have basic safety equipment. “We have flushed out 16 bodies so far,” he said.
Locals said people panicked when water began to flood the boat from numerous leaks. Many jumped out to get into two other boats travelling close by. This led to the accident as the boat lost balance and capsized.
Hirakud lake, reportedly the biggest artificial lake in Asia with a reservoir holding capacity of 743 square km, was formed after the Hirakud dam was built across Mahanadi river in 1957.