A boat carrying 23 students and four teachers capsized in Harni Motnath Pond in Gujarat’s Vadodara district on Thursday, January 18, killing at least seven students and two teachers. As per the latest update, 12 of the total 27 people have been rescued. The students, belonging to New Sunrise School in Gujarat, were being taken by the private school on a picnic. It is believed that none of the students were wearing life jackets and the boat only had a capacity to carry 16 passengers.
The Fire Department has deployed around 30 personnel who are carrying out rescue operations at the waterbody. A National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team has also been rushed to the accident site. The exact number of missing and dead persons is yet to be confirmed.
Addressing the media, BJP MLA Keyur Rokadiya said, “As per initial information, the boat was carrying more people than the allowed capacity, and around 7-8 children have died. Whoever is at fault will be punished. Our priority is to rescue as many children as possible.”
According to a post on X (formerly Twitter) handle of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Union government has announced Rs 2 lakh compensation each to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those injured. The post added, “Distressed by the loss of lives due to a boat capsizing at the Harni lake in Vadodara. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of grief. May the injured recover soon. The local administration is providing all possible assistance to those affected. An ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of each deceased. The injured would be given Rs. 50,000: PM.”
Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel said he would leave for Vadodara immediately. He said, “I am deeply saddened by the tragedy of Harani Lake. It is hard to imagine what goes through the hearts of innocent children when time takes them away from their parents. I am in constant coordination with the system and am leaving for Vadodara after suspending other programs. At present, emergency relief-rescue and treatment operations are going on through the system. We all feel and pray that more and more lives can be saved.”
Opposition leader Ami Rawat spoke to reporters and said that the boat could carry only 16 passengers. “Today is a black day for Vadodara. While there is no official confirmation, initial information suggests that 27 children were there on the boat, which had a capacity of only 16, and also, there were no life jackets,” she added.
Union Minister of State Harsh Sanghavi said, “The news of school children and teachers drowning in a boat accident in Vadodara’s Harani lake is very sad and shocking. I pray to God for the peace of the souls of the innocent children who lost their lives in this tragedy and console their families. Praying for the speedy recovery of the injured and for courage to the families of all the victims.”
Former Union Minister Bharat Solanki took to X to express his condolences. “Received devastating news from Vadodara where several students and teachers were drown as the boat carrying them capsized in Harni lake. Praying for the safety and well-being of the students who are currently in hospital. My deepest condolences to the bereaved families (sic),” he wrote.