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India boat tragedy toll rises to 69

Rescue workers have recovered 69 bodies three days after a boat crowded with Muslim pilgrims capsized near the Bay of Bengal in eastern India, an official said.

Dozens more people are still unaccounted for.

At least 93 people were rescued or swam to safety after the boat toppled into the Hooghly River in West Bengal state on Saturday afternoon, said district officer Nilanjan Shandilya.

The 60-capacity motorised boat was carrying around 224 people when it capsized.

The search for survivors and later for bodies was hampered by poor weather, but had picked up and would continue until all the passengers were accounted for, he said.

Mr Shandilya said at least 62 passengers were still missing.

The pilgrims had been returning to Kakdwip town aboard the boat Ma Durga after offering prayers at the Hijli shrine in East Midnapur district. The accident occurred near Ghoramara island, about 125 miles south of the state capital Calcutta.

This is the second major boat tragedy in little more than two months in the Bay of Bengal.

In August, about 20 people died when an overcrowded village transport boat capsized in a small river in the Sunderbans wildlife reserve.

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