Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday condoled the death of the lives in the Jalpaiguri incident, and announced an ex-gratia of Rs two lakh from Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund to the next of kin of each of the deceased in the tragic mishap, and Rs 50,000 for each of the injured.
“Anguished by the mishap during Durga Puja festivities in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal. Condolences to those who lost their loved ones,” a tweet from the Prime Minister’s Office read.
At least eight people drowned and several others went missing after a flash flood hit the Mal River in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district where people had gathered to immerse the idol of Goddess Durga on the occasion of Vijayadashami on Wednesday. Among those who lost their lives in the tragic incident, four were women, reported PTI.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday tweeted her condolences for the bereaved families, adding that 13 people are undergoing treatment at the Mal Super Speciality Hospital.
She also announced an ex-gratia of Rs two lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 to the injured.
“A tragic flash flood hit the Mal River in Jalpaiguri as Durga Visarjan was underway. 8 people lost their lives, I pray that their families find strength and solace in these difficult times,” Banerjee tweeted.
“Around 70 people were saved by the efforts of the police, civil defence volunteers and local youth. I commend their selfless service. There have been no reports of missing persons so far. Search and rescue operations by NDRF and SDRF are still underway,” she said.
The incident took place around 8.30 pm when hundreds had gathered on the banks of Mal River for the idol immersion ceremony, police said.
Superintendent of Police Debarshi Dutta told ANI that about 25 people were rescued from the spot, adding that eight bodies were recovered and 13 were admitted to hospital.
He also said that in the last 12 hours, there have no missing persons complaint.
Rescue operations were undertaken by teams of NDRF, SDRF, police and local administration. Jalpaiguri District Magistrate Moumita Godara told PTI that eight bodies were recovered. Visuals from the spot showed people struggling against the river current as they tried to move to the bank.
State Backward Class Welfare Minister Bulu Chik Baraik, who is the MLA from the Mal Assembly constituency, said he was at the spot when the incident took place, and feared that the death toll could rise. Baraik and senior TMC leaders were also on the spot to oversee rescue operations.