A ferry disaster in Bangladesh has taken the lives of 27 people. All 27 died as the ferry sank in the Shitalakshya river after a collision with a cargo ship on Sunday. Local authorities recovered the ferry on Monday.
The ferry had 46 people on board, of which, bodies of only 27 have been found so far. As a 1 and a half storey ferry, Sabit Al Hasan sank some of the people on board swam to shore to safety.
Some 20 people swam to safety after the vessel sank’, said Mustain Billah, a local official. The ferry was packed to its brim as people jostled to leave the city amidst fresh covid lockdown imposed by the local government.
“The ferry was packed with passengers after the government confirmed it would impose a seven-day lockdown across the country to combat the recent rise in coronavirus cases”, said a local inspector
Bangladesh has a record jump of covid cases on Sunday with 7087 new infections. This increased the toll to 637364 cases with 9266 deaths.
The nationwide lockdown is the second for the South Asian nation after it shut down for two months from late March last year. On the eve of the lockdown, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked people to cooperate. ‘I know everyone will face difficulties. Despite this, I say lives should be given preference over everything”, the Prime Minister said
100s of onlookers and relatives gathered around the site, as authorities pulled up the ferry from the heavily polluted Shitalakshya River in the central district of Narayanganj. ‘We have found 21 bodies today after the ship was pulled out of the water,’ said Mustain Billah, a local official. Officials later revealed that rescuers have recovered 25 bodies.
‘Most of the bodies were found inside the sunken boat after it was dragged to the bank,’ Billah added. Fire and civil defence official Ershad Hossain said, ” rescuers recovered five bodies overnight and 20 others on Monday. Nine other people remained missing”. They have ordered a thorough investigation into the incident
Rescuers including fire department divers are working to rescue the rest of the bodies. The ferry sank within an hour of its departure time from Narayanganj, 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Dhaka. ‘We have ordered a probe into the accident,’ Billah said.
Rescue efforts were delayed as a storm hit the area after the accident which hampered the rescue operation for hours, revealed the local police chief Dipak Saha.
Bangladesh is heavily reliant on ferries which are used by most people of this riverine country. Despite this the safety of these vessels aren’t properly taken care of, resulting in frequent Ferry accidents
Experts blame poor maintenance, lax safety standards at shipyards and overcrowding for many of the accidents. Similar incidents have happened in the past where ferries have sunk, taking the lives of people. Hundreds of people die every year because of this.
32 people died when a ferry sank in June last year. 78 died in a similar ferry and cargo boat accident back in February 2015. In recent years, a crackdown on unsafe and unseaworthy vessels have improved the situation a hit as the number of accidents declined.