Dhaka, May 3 (EFE).- At least 26 people died as a passenger boat capsized Monday after a collision with another boat in the Padma river in central Bangladesh, the authorities said.
The incident occurred around 7am in Madaripur district when a speed boat carrying some 30 passengers was hit by a vessel transporting sand, according to Fire Service and Civil Defence officer Lima Khanam.
“So far we could recover 26 dead bodies, which included 22 males, three women and a child. We are not yet sure exactly how many people are missing. But usually this kind of boat can accommodate about 30 passengers,” Khanam told EFE.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority director Rafiqul Islam said the boat was heading to Bangla Bazar ferry station from Munshiganj district, defying a ban on public transport due to a spurt in Covid-19 cases in the country.
All public transport has remained shut in Bangladesh since Apr.5 when the authorities declared a lockdown to check the spread of the coronavirus.
The lockdown was enforced initially for a week before it was extended several times up to May 5.
“Our river police were looking into the matter how this boat could manage to ply during the lockdown,” Islam told EFE.
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 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 34 people died on Apr.5 when an overcrowded passenger boat capsized in the Shitalakkhya river in Narayanganj district.
According to the Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh, a total of 313 people were killed and 371 went missing in 183 waterway accidents in the country in 2020. EFE