Central & South Asia
Deaths after India boat capsizes
At least 52 people dead as crowded boat sinks in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2010 19:35 GMT
Only 25 of the people on board managed to swim to the shore [Reuters]

At least 52 people have drowned after a boat capsized in the Ganges river in northern India, police have said.

The crowded vessel, which was carrying about 100 people, overturned early on Monday during a prayer ceremony on the river in the Ballia district in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Ballia is located about 400km southeast of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.

"This group wanted to perform some special prayers that required them to be in the middle of the river. When the boat got to the middle, it capsized in strong currents," Senthil Pandyan, the chief official for Ballia district, told AFP.

Passengers on the boat, which had the capacity to carry only about 30 people, were mostly women and children from Ujveria village in Uttar Pradesh.

"As the boat entered the midstream it failed to take the weight of the people and collapsed,'' Shivendra Yadav, a local police official, said 

Twenty-five people on board managed to swim to safety and reach the banks of the Ganges, which is revered as a holy river by Hindus.

Rescue efforts have been launched to find the missing passengers.

Boat accidents are common in India, mainly caused by overcrowding, poor maintenance of vessels and a lack of life jackets and other safety equipment.

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