Hyderabad: Amid the growing fears that none of the missing passengers had survived, the boat which capsized in river Godavari last evening was retrieved on Wednesday in the joint operation by the Indian Navy and the National Disaster Relief Force.

Some of the bodies were stuck in the boat which was found at the depth of 20 metres.

While four bodies were recovered so far there was no clarity on the exact number of the missing people.

The search operation which had started last night picked up the pace with the daybreak.

A helicopter of Indian Navy was also pressed into service.

Authorities installed flood lights to help the divers in search operations during the night. Heavy cranes were brought in the morning to being the boat out to the bank.

The boat carrying about 60 passengers, mostly local tribal people, had capsized due to gale winds and heavy rains between Devipatnam of East Godavari and Kondrukota in West Godavari district at around 5pm on Tuesday.

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu arrived in Vadapally village, the base of search operations on Wednesday morning to supervise the efforts.

Civil and police officials of both the Godavari districts were also involved in the operations. Earlier the chief minister held a review meeting with the director-general of police Malakondaiah and chief secretary and directed them to make all the arrangements for post-mortem and other formalities at the spot so the bodies could be handed over to the families soon.

While about 20 people managed to swim to the safety others were feared dead.

The number of missing was varying from 20 to 40 by different accounts.

A large number of people including the kith and kin of missing had gathered on the bank of Godavari to know the fate of the missing.

There was confusion about the exact number of people missing as no record is kept of the people who board such boats.

The boats are the only mode of transport between the villages which dot the banks of river Godavari on either side.

According to Karthikeya Mishra, district collector of East Godavari most of the people were on their way back from weekly market at Varapally village when tragedy struck.

The area was experiencing powerful gale winds and the heavy rains at the time.

However police said the cause of the tragedy was not yet known and a probe was ongoing.

This was a slightly a smaller boat than the double decker cruise boats which are used for the tourism purpose in the same area. One such cruise boat had caught fire near Devipatnam last week but all the 100-odd passengers had a miraculous escape.