Launch capsize in Meghna kills 32

The death toll from the launch capsize in the Meghna River in Gazaria upazila rose to 32 till Tuesday evening with recovery of six more bodies.

The identities of the deceased could not be known immediately. Four women and three children were among the dead.

The launch with nearly 300 passengers on board capsized in the river after it was hit by a cargo vessel early Tuesday.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) salvage vessel MV Rustom reached the spot at about 8:30 am and started working to locate the capsized launch.

MV Rustam traced the vessel about 70 feet deep in the water and was conducting the salvage operation.

“We traced the spot of the sunken launch at Char Kishori at about 11:30am,” Shamsuddoha Khondker, chairman of BIWTA said.

Another salvage vessel Hamza is now on its way to the spot from Barisal.

Local sources said 30 passengers, including some children, managed to swim ashore while the rest went missing after the launch capsized.

Deputy Commissioner of Munshiganj Azizul Alam confirmed the incident, saying the Dhaka-bound MV Shariatpur-1 sank in the river around 2:30 am after colliding with an oil-laden cargo boat.

On information, police, firefighters, Bangladesh Coast Guard, and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) members rushed to the spot and were continuing the search for the missing passengers.

Dulal Dewan, a survivor, told reporters that the launch with about 300 passengers on board left Naria of Shariatpur for Dhaka around 9:30 pm on Monday.

It is difficult to verify the figure as ferry operators rarely keep a list of passengers.

Meanwhile adds, the government has formed three committees to investigate the sinking of the passenger ferry.

Chairman of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Shamsuddoha Khondaker, who was overseeing rescue and recovery efforts at the scene, told reporters that the shipping ministry, BIWTA and the maritime transport directorate formed the teams.

Shipping minister Shahjahan Khan has announced a meagre Tk 30,000 compensation for the families of those killed in a launch capsize on Tuesday.

“Kin of the deceased will get Tk 30,000. If more than one of a family has died, they will get Tk 45,000,” the minister told reporters after visiting the site in the afternoon.

He reached Munshiganj around 2pm and stayed at the site for about half-an-hour. Top officials of the ministry, including secretary Abdul Mannan Hawlader, accompanied him.

Later, Munshiganj-3 MP M Idris Ali also visited the site.


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