PATNA-- At least 24 people were drowned, including some minors, when a boat capsized on the Ganga on late Saturday, reportedly because of overloading.
"So far 24 persons have been reported to be dead in the boat tragedy," Principal Secretary, Disaster Management department Pratyay Amrit told PTI.
Efforts are on to look for possible survivors and bodies.
Amrit, DIG Shalin and Patna District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar Aggarwal are camping at the river bank, close to which the tragedy occurred, to supervise the rescue operation.
Around 40 people were said to be onboard the country boat when it capsized near NIT ghat in the evening.
The passengers were returning to Ranighat in Patna from Sabalpur diara across the river after watching a kite festival on occasion of 'Makar Sankranti'.
A few on the ill-fated boat swam to safety, while some families said their fellow members had gone missing after the accident.
Nine persons have been admitted to Patna Medical College Hospital. The search has been called off for the night due to darkness, officials said.
Family members of the deceased and those missing were seen wailing at the ghat.
Nitish Kumar Orders Probe
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed grief over the tragedy and ordered a probe.
Kumar has ordered cancellation of all subsequent events to organised in the diara (riverine) area as part of the Makar Sankranti festivities.
The kite festival from where the victims were returning was scheduled to continue for the next three days.
Bihar JD(U) President Basistha Narayan Singh said the JD(U) feast tomorrow, to which BJP leaders were invited for the first time since 2013 when the two allies had parted ways, also stood cancelled.
The CM has instructed senior officials to seek details about the programme as to whether proper arrangements were made for the event, an official statement said.
Kumar was closely monitoring the situation, it said.
"In order to share the grief of the families of the victims, I have decided to cancel the Makar Sankranti feast at my residence tomorrow," Singh told PTI.
"All the guests including Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and others have been informed about cancellation of the feast," the state JD(U) chief said.
The event, which the state Congress chief and minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet Ashok Choudhary had indicated he would skip, was seen as another mainifestation of the growing bonhomie between JD(U) and BJP. The perception was strengthened after Kumar supported demonetisation and peaked with Prime Minister Narendra Modi praising the Chief Minister on prohibition.