M A I N   N E W S

Joyride ends in tragedy
Teacher, 15 kids die as boat capsizes in Kashmir
Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 30
It was a nightmarish experience for a group of 32 schoolchildren from Handwara, whose picnic to the Wular Lake in north Kashmir ended in the death of 17 persons, including 15 students. The tragedy struck when the naval boat they were riding in capsized near Watlab.

The tragedy befell the boys and girls in the age group of seven and 14 years at about 5-20 p.m. today. Rescue teams of the police and security forces were still looking for any more survivors. The DIG, Police, Baramula-Kupwara range, Mr A.S. Lone, told The Tribune that 15 bodies of the students — five girls and eight boys — had been recovered. The bodies of a teacher and peon were also recovered.

The students from a private school, Brain Candle Public School, Handwara, in Kupwara district of north Kashmir, had come on a day’s excursion to the famous Wular Lake in the adjacent Baramula district. The accident spot of Watlab is located between Sopore and Bandipore towns of Baramulla district.

According to a Defence spokesman, Lt-Col V.K. Batra, a group of 32 students accompanied by three teachers had arrived in the area for an excursion. When they saw motor boats in the lake, they were eager to have a boat ride as it would be the first experience for many of them.

A request for a boat ride by the children was made to the officers concerned of the security forces, who allowed the students to ride the boat.

The spokesman said the voyage was smooth till the boat started returning. Due to the excitement of the students moving from one side of the boat to the other side, the entire weight was shifted to one side that led to its capsizal, the spokesman said.

Giving details, the spokesman said those rescued — a teacher and 12 students — were shifted to the Sub-District Hospital, Sopore, about 15 km away, for medical treatment.

The teacher was in an unconscious condition. No further details about the exact number of students were available, Lt-Colonel Batra said.

CM orders probe

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad tonight ordered a judicial inquiry into the drowning of schoolchildren in the Wular Lake in the Watlab area of Baramula district.

An official spokesman said the Chief Minister had sought a time-bound probe into the tragic incident.

A sitting judge would ascertain the circumstances that led to the drowning of the children, he added. — UNI


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