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Boat Sinking Kills At Least 29 in India - 2002-07-27

In Southern India, at least 29 people died after a passenger boat capsized in a lake. Authorities think the death toll is likely to rise.

The accident took place early Saturday in Kerala state's Lake Vembanad, just half an hour after the overcrowded boat began its journey from Muhamma to Kumarakon town, not far from India's southern tip. Many of the victims were young people on their way to a government recruitment examination. Several people are critically injured.

Naval divers searched through the day for survivors. The boat has been towed ashore. Many passengers are still missing. Naval helicopters are also trying to locate bodies in the lake. Local fishermen and villagers are assisting in the search and rescue operation.

Several survivors said the boat was carrying about 300 passengers, nearly three times its capacity, when it capsized. They say it tilted to one side suddenly and then turned over.

Many people were rescued by local fishermen.

The boat accident is the worst in recent years in Kerala state, where a network of inland waterways is used extensively for transportation.