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Kashmir’s Day of Sorrow: 4 children among 6 dead in Jhelum boat tragedy

Father-son duo among 3 missing
12:42 AM Apr 17, 2024 IST | SHABIR IBN YUSUF
kashmir’s day of sorrow  4 children among 6 dead in jhelum boat tragedy
A man who lost his kin is being comforted during the funeral. Mubashir Khan/GK

Srinagar, Apr 16: At least six persons including four children lost their lives in a boat capsize in River Jhelum on the outskirts of Srinagar on Tuesday morning. The incident occurred in Gandbal, Nowgam area of Srinagar.


Among the deceased were a 35-year-old mother and her twin sons, who were students.


The incident occurred when an old wooden boat, carrying 19 passengers from Gandbal to Batwara, collided with an iron pillar inside the river due to the fast flow of water.


A rescue operation has been initiated to locate the missing individuals. Officials said that 19 persons including the boatman were sailing in the boat.


Among the rescued persons, three have been hospitalised. The rescuers retrieved six bodies that were laid to rest. Three persons including a father-son duo are still missing.


Soon after the incident, senior Police and civil administration officials that included Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Vidhi Kumar Birdi; Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar Bidhuri; Deputy Commissioner (DC) Srinagar, Bilal Mohiuddin Bhat; and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Srinagar, Ashish Kumar Mishra reached the spot to take stock of the situation.


"At around 7:30 am, a boat capsized here. Nineteen persons were aboard. Among them, six persons lost their lives. Three persons have been admitted to a hospital,” DC Srinagar Bilal Mohiuddin Bhat told reporters. “The teams of National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force, and Army are carrying out the rescue operation.”


He said that while the distance between the two ends of the river was only 500 metres, the nearest bridge was 3 km away, forcing the residents to opt for the risky boat ride.

The footbridge in the area has been under construction for almost 10 years.

“Our priority is to search and rescue the remaining three people. Teams of NDRF, SDRF, River Police, and divers from MARCOS have been brought here to carry out the rescue operation,” SSP Srinagar, Ashish Kumar Mishra said.

“Massive ongoing search and rescue operation by Srinagar Police along with teams from SDRF, NDRF, MARCOS, F&ES and locals to locate the missing persons after the boat carrying them capsized in River Jhelum Tuesday morning,” Srinagar Police posted on X on Tuesday evening.

Scores of children from Gandbal and adjoining areas study at Army School, Badami Bagh, and other schools.

To reach these institutions, there is no direct access from Gandbal. Parents ferry their children to school in boats. Locals cross the River Jhelum to reach the other side every day, even during adverse weather.

Most government employees also opt for a boat ride to cross the river in the morning. Eyewitnesses said that the boat was tethered with a rope to a cable for support. However, it sustained damage when it struck the iron pillar, causing it to capsize. The impact of the crash led to the tragic loss of lives.

Locals were the first to respond to the incident, followed by rescue teams from NDRF, SDRF, Army, and Police, who are actively searching for the missing persons.

The incident occurred following the heavy rainfall in Kashmir that caused the River Jhelum to swell.

Doodnath, an eyewitness from Uttar Pradesh, who is a sand digger, said that he saw a big boat crossing the river on Tuesday morning.

“Due to recent incessant rains, the level of the water in the river was high and the flow of currents was strong. The boat was tied to a rope that broke away and the boat collided with an iron pillar of the under-construction bridge. We managed to save three children including a girl,” he said.

Another eyewitness, Abdul Rashid said, “I was near the river bank when I heard screams pierce the air. I saw a boat, tilting precariously. The passengers onboard were screaming for help, their voices filled with fear and desperation.

Without hesitation, a few locals, who were nearby, jumped into the water trying to reach the sinking boat.

The scene was chaotic. Some people were struggling to stay afloat while others were frantically searching for their loved ones. It was a race against time as we tried to rescue as many people as possible.”

The aftermath of the tragedy was devastating.

Families were torn apart, lives were lost, and the once-peaceful area is now a sombre reminder of the fragility of life.