New Delhi: At least three schoolchildren died after a boat carrying 40 children capsized off a Maharashtra coast on Saturday. So far 32 children have been rescued so far, while five others are still missing.
Rescue operations are still underway to trace the five missing children, who mostly hail from Palghar district in Maharashtra.
The bodies of the three girls -- Sonal Bhagwan Surati, Janhavi Harish Surati and Sanskruti Mayavanshi -- all aged 17, were recovered, Superintendent of Police, Palghar, Manjunath Singe told PTI. All three were residents of Masauli in Dahanu's Ambedkar Nagar area.
The private boat was carrying 40 students of Ponda School and Junior College in Parnaka in Dahanu and capsized around 11.30 am, Singe added.
"The Coast Guard has deployed its ships and aircraft in the rescue operation and personnel from several departments like the coastal police are involved in the search
operations," the SP told PTI. Among the rescued, three students and the boat driver were admitted to a hospital, police said.
The location is around 20 miles off the Dahanu coast, a spokesperson of the Coast Guard said. Dahanu is located around 130 km from Mumbai.
Local BJP MLA Manisha Choudhary claimed that the boat had about 40 children onboard. The tragedy apparently struck when some students crowded on one side of the boat to click selfies, resulting in the vessel tilting on one side and capsizing, he said.
"Massive rescue and relief operations are underway and District Superintendent of Police and local officials are supervising the operations," he said. Local fishermen, who saw the mishap, and some residents of Dahanu have also joined in rescue efforts.
Late in the evening, Singe told reporters that the police were probing the accident. An offence would be registered against those responsible for the tragedy, the SP said.
President Ram Nath Kovind, who is arrived in Mumbai fro a two-day visit on Saturday, also expressed grief over the accident. "Anguished to hear of boat carrying school children capsizing in Dahanu, Maharashtra. State government has rescued most of the passengers and is making efforts to trace those still missing. My condolences to bereaved families," he tweeted.
(With PTI inputs)