At least 22 people died and 9 others were reportedly missing after a country boat carrying picnickers from Sambalpur town capsized due to overloading in Hirakud Dam Reservoir (HDR) here on Sunday afternoon.
The deceased have been identified as Anita Singh (40), Seema Agrawal (38), Usha Agrawal (35), Santosh Kumari (50), Suchismita Jena (30), Harish Agrawal (10), Paviz Sharma (38), Purba Sharma (18) and Tania Sharma (15). Some of the bodies are yet to be identified.
Reports said that members of Lions Club, Sambalpur had gone for picnic to Marang Dungri under Tilia Gram Panchayat in Lakhanpur block of Jharsuguda district after crossing the HDR in a motor fitted county boat on Sunday morning. They boarded the boat at Sonutikra Ghat, about 14 kilometers from Sambalpur town under Sason police limits.
The incident occurred when at least 70 members of Lions Club besides 50 regular passengers along with about 30 motorcycles were returning back to Sonutikra Ghat after enjoying the picnic at Marang Dungri. The picnickers boarded the boat at around 4.15 PM and after moving about 15 minutes, water started gushing into the boat from its base. The boat was stopped due to some technical snag and started capsizing in the middle of the HDR.
Rescue teams along with fire brigade and police personnel have rushed to the spot. About 80 persons have been rescued so far. ODRAF team has also reached the spot for the rescue operation. Sambalpur Sadar Sub Collector Surendra Panda had confirmed death of 11 persons and said that still at least 20 persons were missing.
Chief Minster Naveen Patnaik expressed his grief over the tragic incident and asked the SRC and Sambalpur District Collector to expedite the rescue operation.