On Monday, a speedboat carrying passengers collided with a sand-transporting vessel, killing at least 26 people in Bangladesh’s latest maritime tragedy.
As it approached the main river station in the central rural town of Shibchar, the speedboat carrying around three dozen passengers from the town of Mawa rammed into the other vessel in the Padma river, according to police.
“We have so far recovered 26 bodies including a woman. We have also rescued five injured people including three children,” police official Amir Hossain told AFP.
According to Hossain, the passenger boat’s bow was damaged when the speedboat collided with the transport vessel’s side, sinking in the river in minutes.
“Police, the fire brigade and army rescue teams are on the spot, conducting search and rescue work,” he said.
When the boats collided, witness Abdur Rahman said there was a loud noise and the boats overturned.
“When we rushed to the spot we found the speedboat torn into two pieces. Hundreds of villagers immediately started conducting rescue work before they were joined by police and the fire brigade,” he said.
Near the accident site, Bangladesh is constructing the country’s largest road and railway bridge, and police said officers arrived quickly.
Construction work on the river has delayed ferry service, causing many people to travel by less protected speedboats, which take just about 15 minutes to cross compared to up to two hours on safer ferries.
Up to five people are thought to be missing, according to the Shibchar district government administrator.
He said the speedboat driver will be prosecuted because he seemed to have collided with a moored transport vessel.
“A probe has been ordered into the accident,” he said.
In Bangladesh, a delta nation crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers, maritime accidents are common.
Many of the incidents are attributed to inadequate maintenance, insufficient safety practices at shipyards, and overcrowding, according to experts.
Sand-transporting vessels are low in the water and difficult to see in choppy weather, particularly when the light is weak.
In early April, a crowded ferry carrying about 50 passengers rushing home from the central city of Narayanganj ahead of an imminent coronavirus lockdown collided with a larger cargo vessel, killing more than 30 people.
A ferry sunk in Dhaka in June of last year after being struck from behind by another ferry, killing at least 32 passengers.
In February 2015, an overcrowded ship collided with a freight boat, killing at least 78 people.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN