Tinsukia: The joint team of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) has extended the ongoing search and rescue operations to trace the missing persons to 20 km downstream from the place of accident at Assam’s Nimati Ghat in Jorhat district. Even 36 hours after the Majuli boat accident, however, there are no signs of the two missing persons – identified as Jaan Baruah of Lakhimpur and Dr Bikramjit Baruah of Jorhat.
Two ferry boats collided at Nimati Ghat on Wednesday with passengers onboard. The accident occurred when the private ferry, Ma Kamala, which was heading towards Majuli from Nimati Ghat collided with the ‘MB Tipkai’ ferry (operated by state’s Inland Water Transport department) coming from the riverine island. The private ferry capsized and sank.
An NDRF official told EastMojo that four units with 14 boats are still searching for the missing persons.
“The area of search has been extended 20 km downstream. We are taking help from locals and ferrymen are being taken to trace the missing persons. There are no signs of the duo yet,” the official said.
The NDRF is also pressing SONAR technology and other improvised devices like magnets besides reccee along the banks.
On Thursday, a day after the boat capsize incident, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma visited the accident site and ordered a high-level inquiry to be conducted by additional chief secretary Maninder Singh besides making a slew of announcements, including direction to Jorhat police to file a criminal case and ordering a ban of plying of ferries with single-boat engines.
Earlier, protests broke out in Majuli over the accident in Brahmaputra, prompting police to resort to lathicharge to disperse the protestors. The incident happened when angry protestors gheraoed power minister Bimal Borah, who arrived before Sarma and tried to speak with the protestors, compelling him to sit on the road at Garmur Charali.
The state government has also suspended three IWT officials – Bikramaditya Choudhury, in-charge executive engineer, IWT Dibrugarh division and IWT Jorhat sub-division in-charge assistant executive engineer Mukut Gogoi and junior engineer Ratul Tamuli – after the boat tragedy.
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