Disasters & Accidents

At least 30 dead as boat capsizes in Bangladesh

(Update 1: updates death toll, adds info)

Dhaka, June 29 (efe-epa).- At least 30 people died on Monday after a boat carrying around 50 passengers capsized in Bangladesh’s Buriganga river, near the country’s capital city of Dhaka.

The vessel, Morning Bird, capsized around 10 am local time after colliding with another boat, the country’s River Police Inspector Lutfar Rahman informed EFE.

“We have rescued a total of 30 bodies which included 19 men, eight women and three children. We have still continued our search for missing people,” said Anisur Rahman, an on-duty officer of the Fire Service and Civil Defense.

The capsized boat was located later and search and rescue operations continued until dusk, after which a rescue ship on the way to the spot was stuck due to a bridge and divers had to call off operation because of the darkness.

A deputy director of the fire service, Mostafa Mohsin, told EFE that they feared more bodies could be trapped inside the vessel.

He added that the service was trying to lift the boat out of the water along with the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport authorities, but the process could take some time.

Mohammad Riyad, the brother of a textile worker who died in the accident, said that most of the passengers had been traveling to Dhaka from the central Munshiganj district for work.

“My two brothers and relative were going to Dhaka with the launch. My elder brother and the relative could swim ashore, but my younger brother Shahin died. He worked in a garment factory in Dhaka,” said Riad.

He said that when rescuers found Shahin’s body in the sunken boat, he was seen holding a baby.

“Other survivors told us he died as he was trying to save the baby,” Riad said on phone while on his way to Munshiganj with Shahin’s body in an ambulance.

Bangladesh Dpupty Shipping Minister Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury told EFE that after the witching the CCTV footage the incident seemed like a deliberate act to him, and an investigation had been launched.

“It looked like a planned murder to me after seeing the footage. We formed a committee with experts to investigate the accident. Hopefully we will get more details once the investigation is completed,” he told EFE.

The accident took place in one of the major navigable rivers of the country, flowing past the outskirts of the capital.

The highly polluted Buriganga river forms a part of the main waterway connecting Dhaka with other parts of the country.

Boat accidents occur frequently in Bangladesh, where hundreds of waterways, including the Ganges Delta rivers Brahmaputra, Padma and Meghna, are commonly used for transport.

In most cases, the mishaps can be attributed to overloading and the poor condition of the vessel.

However, such incidents have considerably reduced over the years due to improvements in weather forecasting and implementation of new safety regulations.

According to the Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh, a total of 219 people were killed in 203 waterway accidents in the country in 2019. EFE-EPA

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