SRINAGAR: A woman and five children were killed after a boat ferrying them across a swollen river capsized in held Kashmir on Tuesday, officials said.

Rescuers in rubber boats joined by marine commandos and divers were searching for three others believed to have been aboard.

Residents said the remaining missing were schoolchildren on their way to class when the boat overturned in the Jhelum river in the city of Srinagar.

“Six died in the accident, another six were rescued and three are still missing,” Srinagar district magistrate Bilal Mohi-ud-Din Bhat said. “Our information so far is that 15 people were on the boat,” he said.

Three of those rescued were being treated at a hos­pital and the other three were sent home, Bhat said.

Residents had initially reported to local disaster management field personnel that 26 people were on the boat. “It turned out that probably not all of them had boarded,” a top official said.

Grief-stricken relatives gathered at the banks of the river as news of the accident spread. Huge crowds joined funeral prayers in Srinagar to mourn the deaths, among them a woman and her two sons along with three other children.

All of the children aboard were aged between 10 and 16, residents said. The river was swollen after days of rain across the valley.

The small vessel had no motor but its crew propelled it between the riverbanks by pulling a rope fixed at both ends. Witnesses said the rope snapped with the force of the fast-flowing water, sending the boat crashing against a pillar of a partially built footbridge nearby.

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2024

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