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Dozens of Hindu pilgrims feared dead after boat accident

A boat accident on the Godavari River in southern India has left 12 people dead and 20 others missing, according to police. Search operations were under way to locate the missing passengers, most of whom are said to be Hindu pilgrims.


AFP - Twelve people died and at least 20 others were missing and feared drowned Saturday after an overcrowded boat jammed with Hindu pilgrims capsized in a river in southern India, police said.

The accident occurred as the boat was crossing the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh state, police superintendent Madhava Chary told AFP from West Godavari district, 500 kilometers (300 miles) from state capital Hyderabad.

About 50 passengers were on the boat, which capsized early in the morning and had the capacity to carry 35 passengers, police said.

"We have retrieved 12 bodies so far, including five women and four children. Another 20 to 25 people are still missing," Chary said, adding some of the passengers were able to swim to safety.

Rescue vessels and divers were dispatched to search for missing passengers, most of whom hailed from nearby villages.

Relatives of victims anxiously waited for news on the river banks and angrily confronted government officials who had come to inspect the scene of the disaster.

The ramshackle boat was filled with Hindu pilgrims, including many women and children, on their way to a temple to offer prayers to mark the full moon day of Purnima.

Villagers often travel in poorly built boats to cross the Godavari River, which empties into the Bay of Bengal.

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