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Ship stuck in sand, foreigners taste the Orient
- Two Australians & seven Britons spend night in the middle of Brahmaputra after snag in vessel

Guwahati, Sept. 30: Eleven tourists — four Australians and seven Britons — had an adventure they had not bargained for when they booked a cruise on the Brahmaputra.

They spent last night in the middle of the river when their luxury vessel got stuck on a sandbank near Kharguli in Kamrup (metro) district.

Though the Assam Bengal Navigation Company, which runs the cruise, said it was not abnormal for ships to get stuck on sandbanks, police had to rush to the spot late last night to guard the foreigners.

The ship, MV Charaideo, which was on its way to Orang National Park, left for its destination this morning.

Jahnabi Phookan, an official of the company, said the tourists boarded the luxury ship around 2pm from Pandu ghat for a four-night-five-day tour, including a trip to the Orang Rajiv Gandhi National Park.

The ship got stuck near the Khurguli area after sailing for about half-an-hour.

A police official said they were informed about the incident around 10pm and by the time a patrol party reached the ship in the middle of the Brahmaputra, it was nearly 1.30am.

“We found all the tourists safe and comfortable inside their respective cabins. We kept guard all night,” the police official said.

Phookan said it was “no issue” at all since tourists spent nights on the river during the cruise. “There was some technical snag but it was totally normal. The ship left for its destination this morning.”

A source said a ship’s crew usually informs the district administration when the ship decides to anchor in a particular area on the river for the night.

“Since there was no plan for MV Charaideo to set anchor at Kharguli area, the crew did not inform the police immediately. But when the ship could not be freed from the sandbank till late evening, the police were informed,” an official at the inland water transport department said.

The department has leased out the vessel to the company.

Introduced in November 2003, MV Charaideo is a double-decker luxury liner billed as “a journey to the mysterious Orient”.

The liner has well-furnished air-conditioned deluxe suites, apart from a sun deck with seating arrangements and recliners.

That “Assam cruises” on the Brahmaputra has been a success story can be gauged from the fact that the company was recently awarded the first prize by the Japan Association of Travel Agents World Congress held in Tokyo.

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