The death toll in Saturdays trawler capsize tragedy in the Sunderbans reached 25 today after seven more bodies were fished out from Muriganga river near Bay of Bengal. Scores of people – most pilgrims,were returning from Hizli Sharif in East Midnapore – are still missing and feared to be dead. The boat was reportedly carrying over 150 people when it sank in the river.
Seven bodies were found during the search operations and the sunken trawler was located at Ghoramara island by personnel of the Kolkata Port Trust and the Coast Guards, said Surajit Karpurakayastha,Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order).
The trawler,which sank on Saturday morning while sailing from Hijli Sharif in East Midnapore district to Kakdwip in South Parganas,was located on Sunday evening with the help of echo-sounding machines.
Three persons who managed to escape by swimming to safety,meanwhile,reported to the police today,said Karpurakayastha.
The number of missing could not be ascertained as it was not known how many were on the trawler,he said and urged the families of those who were missing to report to the SDO Kakdwip.
Of the passengers on board,50 persons were rescued and were sent to hospital from where they were later discharged,he added.
From early Sunday morning,when rescue operations resumed,more than a dozen boats and vessels of state government civil defence department,Kolkata Port Trust and Indian Navy made a frantic search for the capsized trawler. But till late evening there was no trace of the trawler.
A small aircraft of the Coast Guard made an aerial search of the area of the sinking during the day. Eight speedboats of the Civil Defence Department besides hovercraft of the Coast Guard scoured the waters with a 40-member team of the state disaster management force lending a hand,sources said.
If the trawler is not traced in another 72 hours,it would be very difficult to trace it because of continous siltation, Kanti Ganguly,Minister for Sunderban Development and Youth Affairs,had said earlier in the day.
Minister for Civil Defence Srikumar Mukherjee said efforts to locate the ill-fated trawler and bodies are facing several hurdles. Low visibility and high salinity are making it difficult for the divers, he added.