32 dead as launch capsizes in Buriganga river


Staff Reporter  :
As many as 32 bodies were retrieved from the river Buriganga so far and many others were feared drowned when a small-size launch capsized in the river colliding with another big vessel on Monday.
The incident took place near Dhaka's Shyambazar area at around 9.30 am, said Fire Service Control Room Officer Rozina Islam.
Divers from the Fire Service subsequently arrived on the scene and began the rescue operation with the help of the BIWTA, Bangladesh Navy and Coast Guard.
"Divers team have been deployed and are engaged in the rescue operation with all necessary rescue and communication equipment to search the passengers who are feared drowned," BIWTA Joint Director AKM Arif Hossain told The New Nation.   
He said rescue agencies are searching for bodies in the river. Retrieved bodies were shifted to Mitford Hospital for autopsy.
"Efforts are also on to salvage the sunken launch," added Arif Hossain.
The double-decker launch, 'Morning Bird', was heading toward Sadarghat Launch Terminal from Munshiganj when it collided with another launch (Moyur-2) from Chandpur, said BIWTA Transport Inspector Md Selim.
It was reportedly carrying over 100 passengers and none of them were wearing lifejackets, according to local police.
A BIWTA official told The New Nation that the small-sized boat was ferrying passengers from one hamlet to another along the river without any authorization.
Fazikul Islam, Sub-Inspector of Dakkhin Keraniganj Police Station, said they found 32 dead bodies including 22 males, seven females and three children.
Family members identified 31 of them and took the bodies away.  One body remained unclaimed at the morgue till the time of filing of this report.
Masud Hossain, a survivor, said he was travelling from Munshiganj in a cabin with his uncle while his other uncle was on the lower deck of the launch.
"As I realised something bad has happened, I called my uncle immediately to come out. By this time, the launch capsized. It took less than five minutes to sink," he said, adding, "I thought I'm going to die … I could somehow manage to open the window of the cabin and come out. Situation didn't even allow me to look for my uncle sitting next to me."
Masud Hossain also said that the rescuers have already recovered the body of his uncle Afzar Sheikh but his other uncle Bachchu Sheikh was still missing.
Meanwhile, the authorities have formed a seven-member probe body to look into the launch capsize incident in the Buriganga River.
The Shipping Ministry has formed the probe team on Monday making the Ministry's joint secretary (Development) Md Rafiqul Islam Khan its convener.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Director Md Rafiqul Islam has been made the Member-Secretary of the probe panel.
The committee has been asked to submit a report containing reasons behind the accident, liable individuals or agency and specific recommendations on what to do to avoid such incident in the coming.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed profound shock at the loss of lives in launch capsize in the Buriganga River.
In a condolence message, she prayed for eternal peace of the departed souls and expressed sympathy to the bereaved families, said PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim.