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Kashmir’s boat tragedy; search continues for the missing

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Div Com, DC Srinagar visit bereaved households, provide Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia to NoK of deceased, Rs 50,000 to injured; say LG Sinha closely monitoring situation; IGP says 14 teams deployed, focus on sites having a high probability of finding missing persons, search Ops to continue till missing persons are traced

Srinagar: The joint rescue operation for the missing bodies, including those of a father-son duo and another minor boy, entered its second day on Wednesday in the aftermath of the tragic boat capsize incident at Gandabal area of Batwara on Tuesday.

Teams from SDRF, NDRF, Indian Army’s MARCOS, Fire and Emergency, along with other officials, are intensifying efforts to locate and retrieve the bodies.

Meanwhile, the Lieutenant Governor-led administration has provided financial assistance to the families of the deceased and those who sustained injuries in the incident.

Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Vijay Kumar Bidhuri and Deputy Commissioner (DC) Srinagar, Dr Bilal Mohi-Ud-Din Bhat, visited the Gandbal area on Wednesday and met with the family members of the deceased.

They expressed heartfelt condolences and solidarity with those affected by the tragic incident and extended government assistance to the bereaved families.

As a gesture of support, the next of kin of the deceased were provided an ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh each, while Rs 50,000 each was given to the four injured individuals.

The Div Com, on the occasion, said the search and rescue operation continues in the area as efforts are on to locate three missing persons, comprising two children and an adult.

“Today, 14 teams, including those from NDRF, SDRF, ARMY, River Police, and other agencies, were deployed for rescue operations. The operation is scheduled to continue throughout the night and will resume in the morning,” he said.

Bidhuri said Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha is actively monitoring the situation and has announced financial assistance for the families of the deceased and the injured.

Regarding the bridge construction, the Div Com said, “We have verified the information, and the work is expected to be completed by June of this year.”

Sources said that the rescue operation to retrieve the three missing persons, including a father-son duo identified as Showkat Ahmad and his son Hazik Showkat, along with minor boy Farhan Parray, resumed in the first light of the morning after being halted last night at around 11 pm. It continued all day,they said.

“We have been here in Jhelum of Batwara since around 6 am, continuing our search. Initially, we started from the Batwara area in the morning where the boat capsized. We first scanned the incident spot and soon moved forward to search other areas in the river for the body,” ASI SDRF, Abdul Rashid told KNO.

He said the water flow was very high on Tuesday, however, today it had receded, while no traces of the bodies were found. “We are hopeful of recovering the bodies,” he said.

Inspector General of Police Kashmir VK Birdi told reporters that the search operation to trace the three missing persons from river Jhelum is underway.

“We have alerted all the police stations along river Jhelum to keep watch on bodies,” Birdi said, adding that specialised divers who are searching for the missing persons are focusing on sites where there is a high probability of finding the missing persons.

According to the officials, three people are missing.

The boat, which was carrying mostly schoolchildren, capsized in the Gandbal Nowgam area here on Tuesday. Six people were pulled out of the Jhelum river, which has swollen over the last couple of days due to incessant rains in the Kashmir valley.

Officials said 19 people were on board, out of which six drowned and 10 were rescued.

“A joint combing operation resumed at 6 am after last night’s watch and ward. There are teams of SDRF, NDRF and river police. We are trying to retrieve the bodies of the three missing persons. The operation will continue,” said SDRF Deputy Superintendent Muzaffar Ahmad.

He said the operation has been extended up to 4 km from the spot where the boat capsized.

Senior police and civil administration officials, including Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir, Inspector General of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar and Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar, continue to monitor the situation and rescue operation. (With inputs from PTI)

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