Srinagar: Entire Kashmir plunged into deep shock and grief after a boat ferrying school kids, locals and a few non-J&K residents capsized at Gandabal area of Batwara in Srinagar on Tuesday resulting in the death of six persons including a mother, her two children and the boatman.

The incident happened at 8:15 am when a boat with at least 15 persons on board including two women, four school kids and locals was trying to cross from Gandabal to Batwara. The two school kids, accompanied by their mother, were heading for their school on the other side of the river Jehlum.

Srinagar news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) quoted eyewitness as saying that due to the incessant rains for the past two days in Kashmir, the level and flow of water in river Jehlum was high compared to normal days. “As the boat man tried to cross the river with the help of the rope, the rope suddenly got cut with the result, the boat lost its control. We saw the boat hitting the iron poles installed for the construction of the bridge,” said Riyaz Ahmed, an eyewitness. “All of a sudden, the boat broke into two or more pieces and all those who were on board started crying for help. As the water level was high, we were helpless. We could only see women, children and others drowning.”

Another eyewitness, wishing not to be named, that it was so painful to see people drowning. “I could see kids drowning with their school bags floating on the water. A woman was somehow able to wave her hand for some time, but after around ten minutes, she vanished too,” he said. The videos of dead floating on the river Jehlum took the social media by storm plunging entire Kashmir in a state of shock and despair.

Locals of Gandabal blamed the incomplete bridge for the tragedy. “There has been a long delay in completion of the bridge. Had there been a proper bridge, these young kids would have perhaps been alive,” they said.

Among the dead were a woman and her two twin kids, who were off to school. “Their mother would always accompany them to the school. She would drop them at the school and come back when school was off for the day,” a wailing woman said.

As per locals, SDRF and other rescue teams allegedly took time to reach the spot to start their operations. The SDRF later retrieved the bodies of six people that include the woman identified as Firdousa, wife of Fayaz Ahmed Malik, and her twin children— Tanvir Fayaz and Mudasir Fayaz, a father-son duo and the boatman. Later, police recovered four school bags, belonging to the deceased kids, from the river Jehlum at Chattabal Vier.

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Bilal Mohiudin Bhat as per KNO said that 15 people including seven minors and eight adults were on board the boat. “Six people including two kids and their mother died. Three are still missing and the rest were rescued,” he said.

IGP Kashmir V K Bhirdi told reporters late this evening, that initial inquiry suggested that six people died in the incident and three are still missing. “The rest were rescued. We have alerted the police stations across Srinagar to keep a watch on the Jehlum river while SDRF, NDRF and even MARCOS have been pressed into service to trace the three-missing people,” he said.

Thousands attend funeral of Six deceased: Amid tears and sobs, thousands of people offered funeral prayers of six individuals including mother, her two kids, who drowned to death after a boat capsized in Srinagar’s Gandabal area of Srinagar. The funeral was jointly offered for five deceased including a woman and later for another individual as well. The funeral was led by religious cleric Abdul Lateef Alqandi with moist eyes.