Barisal – The death toll in Bangladesh ferry accident has risen to 18 with rescuers pulling more bodies from the sunken vessel in Sandhya River in the southern Barisal district, officials said on Thursday.
Rescuers from the Fire Service and Civil Defence department found bodies of four children inside the main hull of the engine-propelled boat that sank near Dasherhaat station on Wednesday. They also salvaged the vessel.
Most of the victims are women and children, said an official supervising the rescue operation.
District police chief SM Akhteruzzaman said eight people still remained missing. He said the rescue operation will continue until the missing passengers are found.
Earlier on Wednesday, the rescuers found 14 bodies after the vessel sank in Banaripara sub-district, located nearly 110 kilometres south of the capital Dhaka.
The boat capsized with roughly 60 passengers on board. Most of the passengers had been able to swim ashore as the boat, ML Oishi, went down only when it was about to anchor at Dasherhaat station.
The reason behind the accident could not be determined immediately, but an official at Barisal Port Authority said that the boat was overcrowded 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.