Disasters & Accidents

Death toll rises to 34 in Bangladesh boat accident

Dhaka, Apr 6 (efe-epa).- At least five bodies were recovered Tuesday from the site of a recent boat accident near the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, taking the death toll in the incident to 34, according to the authorities.

The incident occurred around 6 pm on Sunday when an overcrowded passenger boat capsized in the Shitalakkhya river in Narayanganj district.

“We have so far recovered 34 bodies, five of them in floating condition today,” Narayanganj administration chief Mustain Billah told EFE.

Billah added that the bodies were handed over to their families, and that two others remain missing.

“Family members told us they were unable to communicate with two persons. They believe that these two people were in the boat,” he said.

Although the authorities officially concluded the rescue operations on Monday, the river police and fire-fighters have continued to look for the two missing people.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority director Rafiqul Islam said rescue teams had managed to get hold of the capsized boat on Monday and dragged it to the shore.

He said that 21 bodies were pulled out of the boat and rest were found floating in the river.

Immediately after the accident, some 20 passengers had managed to swim to safety.

On Sunday, administration chief Billah had said a preliminary investigation showed that the boat, heading to central Munishiganj district from Narayanganj, was hit by a lighter cargo vessel before capsizing.

Quoting a survivor, leading Bengali daily Prothom Alo reported that the boat was overcrowded with many people heading to their villages ahead of a lockdown.

Bangladeshi authorities on Sunday formally announced a one-week lockdown starting Monday to try and contain a rapid rise in nationwide Covid-19 cases.

Boat accidents occur frequently in Bangladesh, where hundreds of waterways, including the Brahmaputra, Padma and Meghna Rivers all of which are Ganges delta waterways – 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 been considerably reduced over the years due to improvements in weather forecasting and the implementation of new safety regulations.

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-EPA

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