18 feared drowned in boat capsize in eastern India

AP News
Posted: Jan 04, 2010 2:59 AM

About 18 people are feared drowned after an overcrowded boat capsized on a river in eastern India, an official said on Monday.

The accident took place on Sunday on the Rupnarayan River near Kolghat town, 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Calcutta, said Srikumar Mukherjee, the civil defense minister of West Bengal state.

Mukherjee said that search operations were on but "chances of survival are very bleak."

About 29 picnickers from Calcutta had crowded into the vessel, a fishing boat only meant to carry 12 people, he said. Some 10 people were rescued by locals and one passenger managed to swim to safety.

Boat accidents are common in India, where many vessels are unsafe and overloaded.