Bangladeshi ferry disaster leaves 26 dead

Bangladeshi ferry disaster leaves 26 dead

04/05/2021

Bangladeshi ferry disaster leaves 26 dead after colliding with a cargo ship

  • The sunken ferry was extracted from Shitalakshya River on Monday after it crashed and capsized on Sunday
  • Officials said they have so far extracted 25 bodies from the boat, that was believed to be carrying at least 46
  • Some people were able to swim ashore to safety from the sinking one-and-a-half storey Sabit Al Hasan
  • Relatives gathered at the river bank to search for their loved ones. Rescue efforts by divers continued Monday
  • The boat was packed with people rushing to leave the city after the government announced a week-long nationwide lockdown from Monday to tackle a spike in COVID-19 cases 

A ferry disaster in Bangladesh has left at least 26 dead after it collided with a cargo ship on Sunday, with rescuers still pulling bodies out of the water. 

The sunken ferry was extracted from the heavily polluted Shitalakshya River in the central district of Narayanganj on Monday as hundreds of onlookers and relatives of the missing watched from the shore.

‘We have found 21 bodies today after the ship was pulled out of the water,’ local official Mustain Billah told AFP. Officials later said rescuers have now recovered 25 bodies, adding to the earlier count.

‘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, he said. An investigation has been ordered. 

Onlookers and relatives gather after the authorities recovered the capsized boat in Shitalakshya River, in Narayanganj on April 5, 2021. 26 people are believed to have died in the accident, with rescuers still finding bodies

Pictured: Divers recover a body from the capsized boat in Shitalakshya River, in Narayanganj on April 5, 2021. The sunken ferry was extracted from the heavily polluted on Monday after the accident on Sunday

A man holds a mourner who fainted at the site where several people died as a ferry collided with a cargo vessel and sank on Sunday, April 5, 2021

The one-and-a-half storey Sabit Al Hasan sank after it collided with a bigger cargo vessel on Sunday.

The vessel had departed less than an hour earlier from Narayanganj, 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Dhaka, officials told AFP.

Relatives gathered at the river bank to search for their loved ones. Rescuers, including divers from the fire brigade, were searching for survivors on Monday.

A local police inspector said 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.

Billah said the ship was carrying at least 46 people when it left.

‘Some 20 people swam to safety after the vessel sank,’ he told AFP, adding several people could still be missing. ‘We have ordered a probe into the accident,’ he said.

Onlookers and relatives gather after the authorities recover the capsized boat in Shitalakshya River, in Narayanganj on April 5, 2021. A crane pulled to boat out of the river a day after the accident, leaving little hope for those who were on board

The vessel had departed less than an hour earlier from Narayanganj, 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Dhaka, officials told AFP, before it crashed with a much larger vessel, causing to to capsize

Pictured: Rescue workers search for bodies to recover from a ferry that collided with a cargo vessel and sank on Sunday in the Shitalakhsyaa River, Bangladesh, April 5

Local police chief Dipak Saha said rescue efforts were hampered for hours by a powerful storm that hit after the accident.

Under the lockdown, all domestic travel services – including buses, ferries, trains and flights – will be suspended from Monday.

Shops and malls will be shut for a week and a night curfew in effect.

Public and private sector businesses were told to only have a skeleton crew in their offices.

Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, a delta nation crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers.

Millions of people are heavily reliant on ferries for transport, particularly in the country’s southern coastal region, but the vessels have a poor safety record.

Firefighters carry a dead body after recovering from the capsized boat. Officials have said the ship was carrying at least 46 people when it left. Some people were able to swim ashore to safety

Relatives mourn after several people died as a ferry collided with a cargo vessel and sank on Sunday, April 5, 2021

Local police chief Dipak Saha said rescue efforts were hampered for hours by a powerful storm that hit after the accident

Experts blame poor maintenance, lax safety standards at shipyards and overcrowding for many of the accidents.

In June last year, a ferry sank in Dhaka after it was hit from behind by another ferry, killing at least 32 people.

In February 2015, at least 78 people died when an overcrowded ship collided with a cargo boat in a central Bangladesh river.

The number of accidents has dropped sharply in recent years as authorities crack down on unseaworthy vessels.

The boat was packed with people rushing to leave the city after the government announced a week-long nationwide lockdown from Monday to tackle a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Relatives gathered at the river bank to search for their loved ones. Rescuers, including divers from the fire brigade, were searching for survivors on Monday

Millions of people are heavily reliant on ferries for transport, particularly in the country’s southern coastal region, but the vessels have a poor safety record, with accidents commonplace

Relatives mourn after several people died as a ferry collided with a cargo vessel and sank on Sunday in the Shitalakhsyaa River in Narayanganj, Bangladesh, April 5

Bangladesh reported a record daily jump of 7,087 coronavirus infections on Sunday, taking its total number of cases to 637,364 with 9,266 deaths.

Hundreds of people die each year in ferry accidents in Bangladesh, a low-lying country that has extensive inland waterways but lax safety standards. 

Health authorities said they were facing overwhelming pressure for intensive care units in hospitals in recent weeks because of the severe cases of infections.

Domestic flights, river transport and railway operations were suspended Monday while only emergency services will remain operational. Banks will operate for only two and a half hours daily. Industries are allowed to operate but must help their workers commute.

The government has asked people not to go out from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

A local police inspector said 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

Relatives and onlookers gather around the dead bodies after recovering them from the capsized boat in Shitalakshya River, in Narayanganj on April 5, 2021

The boat was packed with people rushing to leave the city after the government announced a week-long nationwide lockdown from Monday to tackle a spike in COVID-19 cases. Pictured: Migrant people and workers board a passenger ferry at the Sadarghat Ferry Terminal as they leave Dhaka a day before a countrywide lockdown, imposed by the government after cases of the coronavirus disease increased in Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 4

But owners and workers of shopping malls in Dhaka’s Elephant Road area took to the streets, demanding that authorities allow them to run their shops.

Some three-wheelers and cars were seen running on the streets of the capital, Dhaka, which are usually clogged during any busy day. Traffic police intercepted bikers and checked their documents.

Local TV stations reported that the lockdown in many towns were being enforced loosely.

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 urged people to help curb the spread of the virus in a speech in Parliament. ‘I know everyone will face difficulties. Despite this, I say lives should be given preference over everything,’ Hasina said.

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