At least 13 people died and 20 others were reportedly missing after a country boat carrying picnickers from Sambalpur town capsized due to overloading in Hirakud Dam Reservoir (HDR) here on Sunday.
The members of Lions Club here had gone for a picnic to Marang Dungri under Tilia gram panchayat of Jharsuguda district. They boarded the motor-fitted country boat at Sonutikra Ghat, about 14 km from Sambalpur town.
Tragedy struck when at least 70 members of Lions Club and 50 others were returning back to Sonutikra Ghat. About 30 motorcycles were also being transported in the boat. The picnickers boarded the boat around 4.15 pm and 15 minutes later, water started to gush into the boat from its base. Because of some technical snag in its motor, the boat could not move and began to sway unsteadily in the middle of the HDR.
On information, rescue teams along with fire brigade and police personnel rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation. They managed to save some of the picnickers, but the ill-fated country boat capsized within a few minutes as people competed with each other to get on to the rescue boat.
Later, more rescue boats reached the spot and managed to rescue about 80 people.
Till last reports came in, the rescue operation with deployment of five boats was going on in full swing inside the HDR.