Rescuers were scrambling to find around 15 people missing after a boat ferrying them across a swollen river capsized in Indian-administered Kashmir on Tuesday, officials said.

The missing included several children who had been on their way to school when the boat overturned in the Jhelum river in the city of Srinagar.

"Around 15 people, several children among them, are missing after the accident," a senior official in Kashmir told AFP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to media.

The river had swollen after days of rain across the Himalayan Kashmir valley.

Witnesses said a rope used to guide the boat across had snapped with the force of the fast-flowing water.

"Our rescue teams are there. We are ascertaining details of the incident," Srinagar district magistrate Bilal Mohi-ud-Din Bhat told AFP.

Many office workers and schoolchildren take a boat across the river in the morning to avoid road traffic.

Accidents are common on the treacherous roads of the mountainous region but passenger boat disasters are rare.