Two dead, 25 missing as India boat capsizes: minister

KOLKATA (AFP) - An overcrowded ferry packed with dozens of people and livestock capsized on Friday in the Indian state of West Bengal, killing at least two and leaving 25 others missing, officials said.

"At least two people died and 25 are missing after a ferry capsized in the Ganges," Ms Sabitri Mitra, a government minister who is overseeing the rescue operation told AFP by telephone.

The overcrowded ferry was carrying more than 45 passengers as well as two buffaloes, Ms Mitra said.

Heavy rains and strong waves caused the boat to capsize and sink into the river near Malda district, located 270km north of the state capital Kolkata, Mitra added.

"Locals jumped into the river to rescue the passengers," she said.

"A total of 19 people, including a child, have so far been rescued."

Malda police superintendent Kalyan Mukherjee, who is at the scene of the accident, said rescuers were struggling to find any survivors.

"Inclement weather and heavy rains are hampering the rescue operation," he told AFP by telephone.