Two killed, 21 missing in Nepal boat capsize (Lead)

January 4th, 2009 - 5:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Jan 4 (DPA) At least two people were confirmed killed and more than 20 missing after a passenger boat capsized on a river in eastern Nepal, officials said Sunday.The boat carrying more than 40 people was crossing the Koshi river when it capsized Sunday morning in Sunsari district, about 400 km southeast of the capital Kathmandu.

Police said rescue workers found bodies washed up near a village on the Indian side of the border, but were hampered by poor weather conditions.

“Rescue workers are facing problems searching for the missing as the area is covered in heavy fog, reducing the visibility to less than 300 metres,” district administrator Durga Bhandari said.

Bhandari said most of the passengers were women and children.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known but officials said overloading could have been a factor.

Local residents pulled out at least 15 passengers to safety, and police and soldiers were pressed into rescue operations.

People have been forced to use boats and ferries to cross the river after devastating floods last year washed away portions of the main highway linking the eastern part of the country with the rest of Nepal.

Reconstruction of the highway and several damaged bridges has been slow and is not expected to be completed for another four months.

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