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Search operation on in Assam ferry mishap

Rescuers today scoured the waters of the Brahmaputra River amidst unrelenting torrential rain to locate the over 100 missing in Assam's worst boat disaster till date which has already left 103 dead.

Authorities feared that the toll may rise, as the ferry was carrying over 300 passengers when capsized in Dhubri district yesterday. The ferry was sailing from Dhubri ferry ghat to Medartary on the south bank of the river when it was caught in a storm.

'The death toll may rise as more than 100 are missing and the exact toll will be known after the search operation,' Dhubri Deputy Commissioner Kumud Chandra Kalita said.

Rescuers and divers of the Army, BSF and the NDRF [The National Disaster Relief Force], equipped with speedboats, were searching the waters this morning for more bodies amidst the heavy rain which was continuing unabated since last night.

The bodies have been kept at the Dhubri Civil Hospital.

President Pratibha Patil has expressed grief over the loss of lives, while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of all help for relief and funds for families of the victims.

Singh has also announced ex-gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh each for the next of kin of those killed in the tragedy.

Gogoi has already ordered an inquiry.

Another 12 persons were missing in another boat capsize in the same area yesterday.
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