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23 pilgrims drowned as boat capsizes

Kishanganj, August 11
At least 23 pilgrims, mostly women, were drowned and 17 went missing when an over-crowded boat capsized midstream in the swollen Kankai river in Bihar's Kishanganj district today, the police said.

Twenty-three bodies have been fished out at different ghats along the river in Terha Gachh block in the district while the search continues for the missing. 

Twelve of the occupants of the boat swam to safety. The tragedy struck when a boat carrying 52 pilgrims, mostly women, was on the way from Biwiganj in Kishanganj district to Khaniabad in Nepal to offer prayers at a Shiva temple.

While eight bodies each were recovered from the Matiayari ghat and Dubyabhedi, four bodies were washed ashore at Motitola and three at Kankaghat, the police said. Divers from adjoining Araria, Purnia and Bhagalpur districts were pressed into service to locate the bodies and survivors. 

Senior Bihar minister Mohammed Taslimuddin and District Magistrate K.S. Kumar are camping at Biwiganj to oversee the relief and rescue operations This is the first major boat mishap during the current spell of floods in Bihar, which has already claimed 41 lives in different flood-hit districts. PTI
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