Bhubaneswar: The toll in Sunday’s boat tragedy in Odisha’s Hirakud  reservoir rose to 15, with the rescuers retrieving four more bodies Monday, an official said.

“Four bodies were retrieved today (Monday). Sixteen people are still missing,” state Special Relief Commissioner P.K. Mohapatra told IANS.

Mohapatra earlier put the number of missing at ten. The figure has been revised on the basis of the information provided by the survivors, he said.

More fire fighters and Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force units joined the operation Monday and the rescue and salvage process has been intensified.

A six-member scuba diver team also joined the crew and they were trying to enter the boat to find the missing people.

The boat which went down in the Hirakud Dam reservoir, about 350 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar, around 4.30 p.m. Sunday, was carrying more than 100 people against a capacity of 70. Most of the passengers were picnickers.

The accident occurred when the people from Sambalpur and nearby areas were returning after a picnic on the other side of reservoir.

Eyewitnesses said the mechanized boat capsized in the middle of the reservoir after water entered into it following a snag. The passengers tried to drain out the water from the boat, but in vain.

Many of the picnickers also jumped off the boat in panic. They said the boat did not have basic safety measures.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed grief and announced that his government will bear the cost of the survivors’ treatment.

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