A launch capsized in the Golachipa river in Patuakhali during a nor'wester yesterday afternoon, leaving at least eight people, including a child and four women, dead.
Five of the dead were identified as Rifat, 5, Lutfa Begum, 55, Monwara Begum, 30, Runiya Begum, 20, and Nipa, 25.
Of some 60 passengers aboard the launch, as many as 35 were missing till filing this report at 1:15am today. The others are said to have swum ashore.
The launch, ML Shathil, sank around 2:30pm at Kalagasia while it was going to Patuakhali from Golachipa upazila, said Badrul Alam, assistant director of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authorities in Patuakhali.
Most of the passengers were female, said Ashraf Hossain, a passenger of the launch.
"Shareng (launch operator) tried hard to control the launch when the nor'wester began, but he failed due to strong winds," he added.
Earlier, the same vessel sank on January 31.
Salvage vessel MV Rustom left Barisal for Golachipa around 6:00pm. It is expected to reach the spot this noon, Badrul said.
A fire service team has been carrying out a rescue operation with the help of locals. Coastguards were expected to join in around midnight.
Parimol Chandra Kundu, deputy director of fire service and civil defence in Barisal, told The Daily Star at 1:00am, “Rescue operation was suspended at 11:15pm due to inclement weather and tide.”
He said three teams took part in rescue operation from 8:00pm. “The work will resume once the weather situation improves,” he added.
Quoting locals, Parimol said 12-13 passengers managed to swim ashore.
Some locals and relatives of missing people were crowding the river bank till midnight.