Patna: At least nine people died after the jeep they were travelling in fell from a pontoon bridge into river Ganga in Patna’s Danapur locality on Friday morning. A search and rescue operation for 12 missing persons is underway. The driver of the vehicle lost control of it while crossing the Peepa Pul in the Akihpur area. The incident took place around 7.30 am. The passengers in the jeep were heading to Danapur from Akhilpur after attending a family function when the vehicle breached the railing of the Peepa bridge. Arvind Singh, one of the rescued passengers, told. Three children were present in the jeep when the incident happened. I was sitting at the top of the vehicle with one more passenger. Police have erected barricades to avoid any untoward incident and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) team has been roped in for the search and rescue operations District Magistrate Chandrasekhar Singh announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh each for the next of kin of the dead. BJP Lok Sabha member and former union minister Ramkripal Yadav reached the spot and supervised rescue operations. Yadav told media persons that he was at the spot for nearly two hours and ensured speedy rescue efforts, which are being carried out by an NDRF team. NDRF 9th Battalion Assistant Commandant (Bihta) Vinay Kumar said the jeep has been pulled out of the river with the help of a crane.