At least 12 people have drowned in a lake after the boat they were travelling in capsized during a religious ritual in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

The incident took place on Friday at approximately 4:30am local time (23:00 GMT on Thursday) when a boat carrying about 20 people immersing an idol of the Hindu god Ganesha tipped over and capsized in a lake in Bhopal.

“Twelve bodies have been retrieved so far and [the] search is on for one more person,” the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said in a statement.

Minister of State PC Sharma told Anadolu Agency that the people who drowned were “taking a huge Ganesha idol and during immersion, the boat they were sitting in tilted and then capsized”.

“We have already ordered an inquiry into the incident,” he said.

The ritual represents the birth cycle of the Lord Ganesha.

This week marks the end of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, when colourfully decorated idols of Ganesha are immersed in water.

The state government has announced compensation of 400,000 rupees ($5,600) to the survivors of the deceased.

At least 18 more people have drowned in separate incidents during immersion of Ganesha idols in the west-central state of Maharashtra, news agency Press Trust of India reported citing police officials on Friday.

The immersions, which began on Anant Chaturdashi on Thursday, continued into Friday morning in several parts of Mumbai, Pune, and Sangli, officials said.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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