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Assam asks Dhaka to help locate ferry victims

Assam,Crime/Disaster/Accident, Wed, 02 May 2012 IANS

Guwahati, May 2 (IANS) Assam has sought help from Bangladesh to trace bodies of a ferry disaster which might have been washed away downstream, an official said Wednesday.


As authorities resumed search operations for the Monday victims, an Assam government spokesman admitted that Bangladesh had been asked to help.


The incident took place in lower Assam's Dhubri district.


Border Security Force (BSF) and National Disaster Rescue Force (NDRF) personnel are engaged in the search for the missing following the tragedy that is feared to have killed 270 people.


The spokesman said strong river currents may have washed away the bodies downstream to Bangladesh.


Although it is estimated that about 270 died in the worst ever ferry tragedy in Assam, the administration is yet to confirm the exact number of the dead.


"We have reports that there were about 350 people on board and only 80 were rescued. However, our investigation is still on and we cannot confirm the exact number of deceased as we we do not have the bodies," Dhubri district Deputy Commissioner Kumud Kalita told IANS.


He said only 42 complaints of missing people had been received.


He hinted the government might have to presume the missing were dead. "But it's too early," Kalita said.


The government said the state machinery had been told to take measures to stop the recurrence of such incidents.


Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is likely to visit the area Thursday.


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