Dhaka – At least 13 people have died and 12 others remained missing after a passenger boat sank in a river in southern Bangladeshi district of Barisal, police said on Wednesday.
Rescuers from Fire Service and Civil Defence department pulled out 13 bodies from the Shandhya River in Banaripara sub-district, located nearly 110 kilometres south of the capital Dhaka.
The boat capsized with roughly 60 passengers on board, district police chief SM Akhteruzzaman told newsnextbd.com. He said the divers traced the boat and found few bodies trapped inside the vessel.
The rest were found floating in the river, he added.
Five people were rescued alive, the police chief said, adding that most of the passengers had been able to swim ashore as the boat, ML Oishi, went down when it was about to anchor at Dasherhaat station.
The police officer estimated that some 13 others may still be missing as most motorboats on river routes do not maintain passenger registers.
The authorities informed the naval divers to join the rescue mission hours after the members of the Fire Service and Civil Defence and Bangladesh’s Inland Water Transport Authority launched the rescue operation.
The reason behind the accident could not be determined immediately, but an official at Barisal Port Authority said that the boat was overcrowded with passengers when it sank.
Mustafizur Rahman, the officer said the boat was not properly made for ferrying passengers. “It was plying illegally to ferry passenger from one place to other,’ he added.
The government launched an investigation into the accident. A nine-member committee will determine the reason behind the tragedy. The committee was asked the report in seven days time.
Lax monitoring and overcrowding of ferries cause frequent accidents on river routes in deltaic Bangladesh criss-crossed by more than 300 rivers.
At least 70 people died after a double-deck ferry hit by a cargo vessel capsized in a river of central Bangladeshi district of Manikganj in February 2015.
Forty-nine people were confirmed dead and unknown number of passengers remained missing after a ferry carrying more than 200 passengers sank in Padma River in August 2014 while dozens others were killed in another accident in May of the year.
Nearly 150 people were killed in March 2012 after an overcrowded ferry carrying about 200 passengers sank in a river of central Munshiganj district when it was hit by an oil tanker in the middle of the night.