At least four school children died after a fishing boat carrying some 40 students capsized in the Arabian Sea off the coast of the western Indian state of Maharashtra on Saturday, officials said.
The incident took place in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Dahanu, a coastal town in the state's Palghar district, some 110 kms from Mumbai.
"The boat carrying some 40 school children capsized in the sea around noon. A total of 32 children have been rescued so far.Massive rescue and relief operations are underway for those feared missing," district collector Prashant Narnaware told the media.
"The death toll may go up later in the day as some four children are still feared missing," a police official said. "The Indian Coast Guard has diverted one of its ships and pressed an aircraft and choppers into the rescue operations," he said.
Local TV channels reported that the students belonged to Babubhai Junior College near Par Naka in Dahanu and were out on a picnic on the Parnaka Beach when some of them decided to board the fishing boat for a fun trip on the sea.
"Overloading is said to be the cause of the mishap. The boat titled and then upturned in the middle of the sea. However, a probe has been ordered," the police official added.
Boats in India are often overloaded and lax safety standards meant that accidents are common.
Some 16 people were drowned after their boat capsized in the southern India state of Andhra Pradesh in November last year. And a boat accident in northern India in September 2017 killed 20 people.