Three people drowned and at least 13, including two women, went missing on Wednesday when a wooden jetty in West Bengal's Hooghly district collapsed during the morning high tide in the Hooghly river, officials said.
NDRF Deputy Commandent (Kolkata) Abhay Kumar Singh said, "Various factors like tides and poor visibility are hampering the rescue operation". Too many pilgrims reportedly rushed to board a vessel that was ferrying people to the mainland.
Incidentally, the death of Gangasagar pilgrims at jetties on the Sagar Island in the Bay of Bengal hit headlines several times over the years. The local administration arrested four people, who were given out lease of the jetty.
"They are being interrogated".
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A high-level meeting was also held at Nabanno on Friday to discuss whether operation of jetties is safe and smooth, sources said.
Sources told DNA that that there were around 16,000 boats that operating illegally. The government is likely to upgrade them to semi-mechanised boats, they added.
On Thursday, locals staged a demonstration demanding that the jetties be repaired and renovated with immediate effect.
The accident occurred when the passengers were waiting at the 150-feet high bamboo jetty at Telinipara for boarding a launch to cross the river and reach Shyamnagar in North 24 Parganas district. Three bodies were recovered.