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India ferry capsizes; 103 dead, 100 missing

BURABURI, India (AP) — Rescuers on Tuesday had recovered 103 bodies from a turbulent northeastern river after a heavily packed ferry capsized, saying they feared dozens of others had been swept by the current to neighboring Bangladesh.

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Rescuers pull out the wreckage of a ferry Tuesday that capsized in the Brahmaputra River at Buraburi village, approximately 215 miles west of the state capital Gauhati, India. Army divers and rescue workers pulled more than 100 bodies out of a river after a packed ferry capsized in heavy winds and rain in remote northeast India, an official said Tuesday.

The overloaded ferry overturned and broke into two pieces in stormy weather late Monday. About 100 people were still missing Tuesday evening.

Abdul Mazid, a local villager, was among grieving relatives and survivors gathered on the banks of the Brahmaputra River in Assam state.

He had rushed there soon after the boat ferrying about 350 people — including his sister — capsized. Some passengers swam to safety or were rescued by villagers, but Mazid was still waiting in silence on the crowded river bank for news of his sister 24 hours later.

Rescuers said they feared the swift-moving currents had carried dozens of bodies downstream into neighboring Bangladesh.

The ferry was a daily service that connected several small riverside villages and islands to the main district town.

Survivors told television channels how the ferry had been packed tight with passengers and cargo, with about 150 people riding on the ferry’s roof.

Hasnat Ali said he had been on the roof as the vessel headed to shore to dock when a storm hit. The ferry was tossed about and many of those sitting with him were thrown off. Some managed to swim to shore before the ferry was dashed to pieces, he said.

Ali managed to cling to a log and was later rescued by local villagers, he said.

Deep sea divers and disaster rescue soldiers worked through the night to help survivors to shore and retrieve bodies from the river.

By Tuesday morning, army divers and rescue workers had pulled out 103 bodies. “No more bodies have been recovered. It’s quite possible strong currents have swept some bodies inside Bangladesh,” said Mohan Lal, a senior officer of the Border Security Force, who is supervising rescue efforts.

Soldiers and members of India’s disaster response team hauled the remains of the ferry from the river using ropes tied to two tractors. Lal said they managed to lift the wreckage enough to be sure no bodies were trapped inside.

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