Ten schoolchildren missing after boat capsizes in India's Bihar

Ferries often overloaded in one of country's poorest states

Sopol district, Bihar 7 July 2009 - 
A boatman on the river Kosi.
During the monsoon months the boats are the only means of travel along  the villages in the flood plains of the Kosi.
(Subhash Sharma for The National)
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At least 10 schoolchildren were missing after a boat capsized in the Indian state of Bihar on Thursday morning.

More than 30 pupils were on board the boat when it capsized near the Madhupur Patti pier along the Bagmati river because of an unevenly distributed load, officials said.

People from the area and emergency services rescued about 20 people including children, officials said. The National Disaster Response Force was searching for those missing.

Randhir Singh, deputy commandant of the NDRF in Bihar, said the exact number of children missing was not yet known.

“About 11am, the NDRF control room got information that a boat capsize had occurred in Bagmati river. As soon as we got information we ordered our team to reach the site,” he said.

Television channels showed a search team with a diver on an inflatable dinghy.

Nitish Kumar, the head of the state government, said local authorities had been ordered to investigate the incident.

“I have directed the district magistrate to be at the scene of the accident and support will be given to the children's families,” Mr Kumar said.

Bihar suffers several such incidents every year, particularly during the monsoon season when river levels are at their peak.

At least two people died when a boat carrying more than two dozen passengers capsized in the Gandak river in October last year.

The state is one of the poorest in the country, with an inadequate road network that often forces people to use ferries that are poorly maintained and overloaded.

Updated: September 14, 2023, 1:08 PM