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50 Feared Dead in India Boat Collapse

June 24, 2001

CALCUTTA, India (AP) _ An overcrowded boat capsized in the Ganges River in eastern India and at least 50 people were feared drowned, officials said Sunday.

The bodies of two children were recovered from the river following the accident Saturday in the northern Malda district, some 150 miles north of Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal state.

About 70 of the 130 passengers on the motorized boat swam to safety or were rescued, said Ajit Ranjan Bardhan, district administrator of Malda. Eighteen of them have been admitted to hospitals, he said.

Though rescue workers and divers have been searching for survivors since Saturday, none has been found. Officials feared they may have been washed away in the strong current of the river, swollen with monsoon rains. The boat has either been swept away or has sunk.

Survivors said the boat was carrying passengers, luggage, cattle and grain for sale when the engine suddenly died. This created a panic among the passengers, who began to run on the deck, causing the boat to tilt and capsize.

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