Updated: May 03, 2021 11:19 AM GMT
Police officers inspect a speedboat that collided with a vessel transporting sand, killing at least 26 people, in Madaripur on May 3. (Photo: AFP)
At least 26 people were confirmed dead and several others were missing after a speedboat carrying dozens of people overturned after hitting an anchored bulkhead in the Padma River in Bangladesh early on May 3.
“The speedboat left from Shimulia ghat [jetty) of Munshiganj district for Bangla Bazar ferry ghat of Shibchar in Madaripur district with an estimated 30 passengers. It hit a sand-laden bulkhead anchored in the river, overturned and sank. A total of 26 bodies have been recovered and the search for the missing has continued,” said Ashikur Rahman, an inspector of naval traffic police in Bangla Bazar.
While Bangladesh remains under strict lockdown due to Covid-19 and all public transport is banned, speedboats have been transporting people illegally across the Padma, one of the country’s largest rivers.
The ill-fated speedboat was overcrowded and possibly hit the bulkhead due to poor light in the early hours, rescue officials said.
Aduri Begum, 35, a Muslim, lost her husband and 18-month-old son in the tragic accident. The family were on their way to Faridpur district to pay their last respects to Aduri’s mother who died on May 2, reported Bengali daily Prothom Alo.
“She was coming to see her dead mother, but now she will have to return with the bodies of her husband and son. We have no words to console her,” said one of Aduri’s uncles.
However, due to lax rules, inadequate oversight, poor safety standards and overcrowding, fatal accidents are very common
A six-member committee has been formed to probe the accident, according to Rahima Khatun, chief government official in Madaripur district.
Water vessels transporting sand are often hard to see as they dip low in the water.
In low-lying Bangladesh, a delta nation crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers, waterways provide cheap transport for passengers and goods.
However, due to lax rules, inadequate oversight, poor safety standards and overcrowding, fatal accidents are very common, killing hundreds every year.
The accident near Shibchar town comes after another accident on April 4 when 30 people died after a ferry packed with more than 50 people capsized after collision with a large cargo vessel in Narayanganj district near capital Dhaka.
In June last year, 32 people were killed when a large ferry hit a small passenger boat near Dhaka.
In February 2020, 26 Rohingya refugees died when a boat carrying them en route to Malaysia sank off the Bay of Bengal near Bangladesh’s coast.
In March 2012, some 122 people died when a ferry carrying 300 passengers sank on the Meghna River in what was the worst maritime accident in the country’s history.