Relatives of those missing in the capsize of MV Miraj-4 wait on the shore in the early hours yesterday as rescue vessel Prattay tries to salvage the launch at Daulatpur of Gazaria in Munshiganj. Photo: Courtesy
Mohammad Selim was not new to waiting for bodies of people close to him on the bank of a river where a launch had gone down.
Yesterday, he was at Doulatpur of Gazaria in Munshiganj on the Meghna waiting for what he feared would be the body of his employer. His employer Anwar Dhali, 46, owner of six large launches, was travelling on MV Miraj-4 that sank there Thursday afternoon.
Selim had waited for the bodies of four members of his family on the bank of the same river in the same upazila not too far from Doulatpur just a year ago.
“My father was the Sukani [assistant to the captain] of that vessel. My mother, sister and an uncle were with him during the month of Baishakh, known as the month of storms,” said Selim.
None of them survived.
Selim like his 200 colleagues who were at the accident site yesterday gave up hope of finding their boss Anwar Dhali alive.
Anwar Dhali apparently became a victim of what many blame as a culture with businessmen -- carrying goods and passengers more than the capacity of a vessel to make more profit.
This is the second launch disaster in two weeks. Several families were torn apart and devastated by the launch capsize, a phenomenon people of Bangladesh knows too well.
Mohammad Ali, 35, survived the accident but his wife Shirin Akhter Shila 26, and seven-year-old son Al Amin did not.
“It was drizzling and a gust of wind from the south shook the launch twice,” said Mohammad Ali, who had actually got the captain's cabin close to the bridge.
“As I tried to tell the captain to steer the vessel towards the shore, the third gust took the launch down,” he said.
Ali held his wife Shila's hand and jumped into the water. Al Amin was in Shila's lap.
“When I came up to the surface of the water, I knew I was not holding my wife or my son,” he said.
Shila had returned from Mauritius three months ago after living there for five years. The family had decided to visit their village home before she went abroad again.
“Why didn't I stop her from travelling on a launch in this season?” said Shila's mother Shanu Begum as she wailed at the accident site. She had been there straight since 9:00pm Thursday.
According to the divers of BIWTA, the Navy and Fire Service, the wreck was 40 to 50 feet under water. They believe the captain had indeed been trying to head towards the shore but had ran out of time.
Surviving the disaster, brothers Sohag Molla and Swapan Molla are looking for their 70-year-old father.
“The old man, a diabetic, went through a surgery recently and he was looking forward to going home,” said Sohag.
Swapan had found a lifebuoy after the launch went down. The launch with about 200 passengers apparently did not have enough lifebuoys. Only three could be seen floating around the upside-down launch before it finally went down Thursday afternoon.