A ferry packed with Hindu devotees capsized Monday in southern India as it returned from a festival, killing at least eight people on board with more still missing, officials said.

The boat was believed to be carrying around 30 passengers from an island temple in southern Karnataka state when it overturned in rough waters.

“Eight people have died. We managed to rescue 18 others and think another five or six may still be missing,” police district superintendent Vinayak Patil told AFP.

Thousands of pilgrims travel across the open sea to a festival at the temple each year, Patil said.

A search and rescue operation was underway on the Arabian Sea near Karwar, a navy spokesman said, confirming the death toll but adding that only one passenger was believed unaccounted for while 17 others had been rescued.

Navy helicopters and speedboats were dispatched to the area to help search for survivors.

Boat accidents are common in India, with most blamed on overcrowding and poor maintenance.

At least 10 people were killed in eastern India earlier this month when a packed boat overturned near an island popular with local tourists.

Last May, some 19 people were killed when a boat capsized in Andhra Pradesh state in the country’s south.

AFP

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