Dhaka, Sep 25 (EFE).- Around 32 people have died and at least 40 remain missing after a boat capsized in Bangladesh’s northern Panchagarh district, officials said Monday.
The boat, carrying approximately 80 passengers, sank in the river Karatoya on Sunday afternoon, minutes after it sailed from the Awaliar Ghat area in the district.
Most of the passengers were Hindu devotees traveling to a temple in the Debiganj area of Panchagarh district to observe the religious festival of Mahalaya.
Rescuers found seven bodies in the river on Monday, taking the toll up to 32, Panchagarh district police chief SM Sirajul Huda told EFE.
Sixteen bodies were found in the river after the accident on Sunday, while nine people died in a hospital after they were rescued, Huda said.
“It was a small boat in which many people were traveling together. We were yet to figure out exactly how many people were on the boat,” said Huda.
Panchagarh district administrator Jahurul Islam said they estimate around 40 people still remain missing.
“We have opened an information center near the spot where people are coming to report their missing relatives. Many people have come to us so far. From there, we assume around 40 people still remain missing,” he said.
Local fire station chief Tushar Kanti Roy told EFE that they resumed rescue work in the morning after suspending it at night due to darkness.
“We are looking for survivors or victims in a 15-kilometer area. It has been nearly 24 hours since the incident. If there are any dead bodies, they should be floating by now,” Tushar said.
Boat accidents occur frequently in Bangladesh, where hundreds of waterways, including the Brahmaputra, Padma and Meghna rivers – all a part of the Ganges delta – are commonly used for transport.
In most cases, the accidents can be attributed to overloading and the poor condition of the vessels.
However, such incidents have considerably reduced over the years due to improvements in weather forecasting and the implementation of new safety regulations.
At least 82 people died in three major boat incidents in Bangladesh in 2021.
Between 2018 and 2021, 462 people died, 315 were injured, and 677 went missing in 326 waterway accidents, according to a study by the Accident Research Institute under the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. EFE