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Ferry carrying schoolchildren sinks in India, killing three

Updated January 14, 2018

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DAHANU: Rescue workers search for survivors and bodies of victims after the accident.—Reuters
DAHANU: Rescue workers search for survivors and bodies of victims after the accident.—Reuters

NEW DELHI: A ferry boat carrying mostly teenage schoolchildren sank off India’s western coast on Saturday, killing three students, police said.

The police and the navy involved in the rescue operation said another 29 children were rescued after the incident off Dahanu, a town in Maharashtra state. All the students on the boat have been accounted for, said police officer V.J. Sankha.

Earlier, the Press Trust of India news agency said that 32 children have been rescued during search operations using a plane, helicopters and some ships. It also said the schoolchildren were on a picnic when the accident occurred.

Police officer U.J. Sankha said the rescue operation had been completed with the recovery of the boat that capsized in the sea.

Moshudi Pervez Sheikh, a 17-year-old girl who survived, said the boat tilted and sank as the schoolchildren moved to one side to take selfies using smartphones.

Such accidents are common in India, where many ferry boats are poorly built and often overcrowded, and there is little regard for safety regulations such as providing lifejackets.

Boats are often the main mode of transport in remote areas.

Five killed in copter crash

A helicopter carrying employees of an Indian oil company to an off-shore rig in the Arabian Sea crashed Saturday, killing five people and leaving another two missing, the navy said.

The helicopter was carrying two pilots and five employees of the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Commission from a Mumbai airfield to the oil rig when it disappeared, prompting a search operation, navy spokesman Capt. D. Sharma said. The five bodies were spotted along with debris from the helicopter, Sharma said.

Rescuers on ships found some life jackets and continued to look for the missing people, he said.

The Press Trust of India news agency said the pilot lost contact with the air traffic control soon after take-off on Saturday from Mumbai’s Juhu airport.

The helicopter belongs to state-run company Pawan Hans, which operates a fleet of helicopters for off-shore operations, charter services and ferrying pilgrims to shrines in mountainous areas.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2018