Boat capsizes in Kashmir, killing at least four; children among 15 missing

The boat capsizes in Jhelum River near Srinagar, with most of the passengers being children on their way to school.

india kashmir boat
Rescuers prepare to search after a boat carrying people including children capsized in Jhelum river on the outskirts of Srinagar [Mukhtar Khan/AP]

A boat carrying a group of people has capsized in a river in Indian-administered Kashmir, drowning four of them, news agency Press Trust of India reports.

The boat capsized in the Jhelum River near Srinagar, the region’s main city, on Monday.

Most of the passengers were children on their way to school, and rescuers were searching for the missing.

India Kashmir Boat
Family members and relatives cry after the boat capsized in Jhelum River [Mukhtar Khan/AP]

“Around 15 people, several children among them, are missing after the accident,” a local official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Heavy rains fell over the Himalayan region in the past few days, leading to higher water levels in the river.

India Kashmir Boat
People gather along the Jhelum River after the boat with children overturned near Srinagar [AFP]

Witnesses said a rope used to guide the boat across had snapped due to the force of the fast-flowing water.

“Our rescue teams are there. We are ascertaining details of the incident,” Srinagar District Magistrate Bilal Mohi-ud-Din Bhat told AFP.

Many office workers and schoolchildren take the river route in the morning to avoid road traffic.

India Kashmir Boat
Rescue operation is continuing for the several missing people [Mukhtar Khan/AP]

Accidents are common on the treacherous roads of the mountainous region but passenger boat disasters are rare. Many vessels, however, are overcrowded and have inadequate safety equipment.

Last year, 22 people drowned when a double-decker boat carrying more than 30 passengers capsized near a beach in Kerala state in southern India.

In May 2018, 30 people died when their boat capsized on the swollen Godavari River in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies