IANS

As many as 16 school children and teachers were drowned as boat capsized in Harni Lake, located on the outskirts of Vadodara, on Thursday, officials said.

The tragic accident occurred while the group of 27 students along with their teachers, was on a picnic.

Preliminary reports suggest that the students and some teachers from New Sunrise School in Panigate arrived at the lake around 4.30 p.m. for a picnic and boarded a boat that became overloaded.

The incident has prompted a massive search operation for the missing students, with 10 already rescued and efforts on to locate the others..

Vadodara's Chief Fire Officer Parth Brahmbhatt said that the boat was carrying students on a picnic when it overturned in the lake during the afternoon.

Some residents heroically rescued a few children before the arrival of the fire service personnel.

Gujarat Education Minister Kuber Dindor said that the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and fire brigade personnel were actively involved in the search efforts.

Vadodara MP Ranjanben Dhananjay Bhatt has assured that strict action will be taken against those responsible. The MP also stated that the rescued students have been transported to various hospitals.

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel extended his heartfelt condolences to the families of the children who perished in the accident as he described the incident as "extremely heartbreaking". He said that the rescue operation for the students and teachers on board was in full swing and assured immediate relief and treatment would be provided to the victims.

The Prime Minister's Office, in a statement, expressed sorrow over the loss of lives due to the accident and conveyed condolences to the bereaved families and wishes for the injured to recover quickly. It was announced that an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) would be given to the next of kin of each deceased and Rs 50,000 to the injured.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge reacted to the news with deep sorrow, urging the Gujarat government and administration to hasten relief and rescue operations. He emphasised the importance of saving the lives of the students still reported missing and expressed solidarity with the families affected by this tragedy.

(Except for the headline, this story, from a syndicated feed, has not been edited by Odishatv.in staff)

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