At least eight people have died and several others have gone missing after flash floods swept a group away during a Durga Puja idol immersion ceremony in the Mal River in India’s West Bengal.
Hundreds had gathered on the banks of the river on Vijayadashami in Jalpaiguri around 8:30 pm on Wednesday when the incident occurred, NDTV reports.
"All of a sudden, flash floods struck and people were swept away. So far, eight bodies have been recovered and we have rescued around 50 people," Jalpaiguri District Magistrate Moumita Godara told PTI.
Thirteen people with minor injuries were admitted to a nearby hospital, she added.
Search and rescue operations are underway, she said.
The death count may increase, according to State Backward Class Welfare Minister Bulu Chik Baraik.
"I was present at the spot when the incident happened. Several people were swept away and the water current was very strong. Hundreds of people were present when the incident took place. Several are still missing," he said.
Baraik and other senior leaders of West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool party went to the scene to oversee relief and rescue efforts.
Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari urged the state administration to intensify its efforts.
"Saddening news coming from Jalpaiguri as flash flood in Mal river during Durga Puja immersion swept away many people. Few deaths have been reported till now. I request the DM of Jalpaiguri & @chief_west to urgently step up rescue efforts & provide assistance to those in distress," he tweeted.