MP: Boats capsize during Ganesh idol immersion, 11 dead

State Disaster Emergency Response Force (SDERF) personnel during a search and rescue operation after a boat capsized in the Lower Lake, in Bhopal. (PTI Photo)

Eleven people drowned after two boats carrying them capsized during Ganesh idol immersion at a lake here in the wee hours on Friday, a police official said.

The incident took place in Khatlapura on the banks of the Lower Lake, Deputy Inspector General of Police Irshad Wali told PTI.

Eleven people died in the incident while six were rescued, Bhopal Collector Tarun Kumar Pithode said.

Seventeen people were on the two boats for the Ganesh idol immersion at Khatlapura ghat when the incident took place at around 4.30 am, the collector said.

The first boat tilted and when the people on the other boat one saw it, they tried to save the people on it, but to no avail, the official said. In the process, the other boat also tilted and both the vessels capsized, the official said.

A video of the incident, showing two boats sailing in tandem balancing a huge Ganesh idol, went viral on social media.

It shows the boats losing balance as the devotees onboard began pushing the idol into the lake water. It also shows people trying to save their lives by swimming ashore.

The person who is believed to have shot the video said a municipal diver and another person managed to save some of those who fell off the boats.

Teams of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC), local police, and bystanders swung into action and rescued six persons, the official said.

Chief Minister Kamal Nath ordered a magisterial inquiry and a compensation of Rs 11 lakh each to the kin of the deceased, while police registered a case against the two boatmen.

One Tamar Rana, who was among those rescued, said safety equipment was not provided to those venturing into the lake to immerse idols.

He said the two boatmen asked more people to come on board to maintain the balance as the boats sailed carrying the idol.

A Jahangirbad police official said the two boatmen Akash Batham and Changu Batham have been charged under section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code.

He gave the names of the dead as Parvez Khan (15), Rohit Maurya (30), Harsh (20), Karan (16), Sunny Thakre (22), Rahul Verma (30), Vikky (28), Vishal (22), Arjun (18), Rahul Mishra (20) and Karan Pannalal (26), all residents of the city's Piplani area.

The Bhopal Municipal Corporation announced relief of Rs 2 lakh each to the kin of the deceased, while an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh, including an immediate relief of Rs 50,000, was declared by the collector.

Additional DG of the State Disaster Response Force D C Sagar said rescue operations at the site would continue till the police are sure that no more persons are missing.

The boats were taken out with the help of cranes, he added.

MP Public Relations Minister P C Sharma and Revenue Minister Govind Singh reached the site. Former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan met kin of the deceased at the hospital where the bodies were kept.

Chouhan accused the administration of criminal negligence, and said the kin of the dead should be given compensation of Rs 25 lakh and one person per family should be provided a government job.

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