At least 30 die after ferry capsizes in Bangladesh capital

Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh due to poor safety standards in the country’s many shipyards. The ferries are often overcrowded and sink in bad weather.

At least 30 people are dead and a dozen are missing after a ferry capsized in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka following a collision with another vessel, rescue officials said.

Rescue workers search for victims after a ferry capsized at the Sadarghat ferry terminal in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Rescue workers search for victims after a ferry capsized at the Sadarghat ferry terminal in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Source: AFP

The Morning Bird vessel was hit from behind by another ferry around 9.30am local time during the morning rush hour, when the country’s largest river port is packed with vessels.

“We have collected 30 bodies, including 20 males, seven women and three children,” Abul Khair, a diver in the fire brigade, told AFP.

“There were at least 50 people on board … Our rescue divers are still searching,” coastguard spokesman commander Hayet Ibne Siddique said.

The ferry – which departed from central Munshiganj district – sank as it was about to moor at Sadarghat, Dhaka’s main river port used by hundreds of boats to travel to the country’s south.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority’s chief, Commodore Golam Sadeqk, told AFP the single-deck ship was “not overcrowded” and sank “due to carelessness”.

He said the vessel had been cleared to carry passengers until September.

Witnesses told local television stations that many passengers were stuck in cabins on the ferry following the collision.

Images from the scene showed large numbers of bodies in white bags which had been retrieved from the stricken vessel.

Dead bodies are seen piled up on a boat after a passenger ferry capsized in the river Buriganga in Dhaka, Bangladesh, June 29, 2020.
Rescue officials collected at least 25 bodies after the collision – REUTERS

Divers were still pulling bodies from the wreck, in waters some 12-15 metres deep. The deceased were put in body-bags before they were laid in rows at the harbour-front.

Another boat would later arrive to lift the damaged vessel from the water, Mr Siddique said.

Relatives gathered at Sadarghat despite coronavirus social distancing concerns to search for their family.

“I still don’t know what happened to them,” a man, searching for his cousin and another relative, told reporters.

Relatives of a victim of a ferry capsized mourn as rescue workers unload bodies in Dhaka, Bangaldesh.
Relatives of a victim of a ferry capsized mourn as rescue workers unload bodies in Dhaka, Bangladesh. – AFP

Boat accidents are common in Bangladesh, which is crisscrossed by more than 230 rivers.

The South Asian nation is heavily reliant on ferries for transport but has had a poor safety record.

Experts blame badly maintained vessels, lax safety standards at shipyards and overcrowding for many of the accidents.

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 crackdown on unseaworthy vessels.

Rescue workers bring bodies of victims after a ferry capsized at the Sadarghat ferry terminal in Dhaka on June 29, 2020.
The bodies were taken to the busy ferry terminal of Sadarghat – AFP

SOURCE AFP – SBS

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