A ray of hope flickered on the sixth day of hunt for sunken launch Pinak-6 yesterday as rescuers claimed to have detected signals from a “metallic object” in the Padma.
“The metallic object has similarity with Pinak-6 in length,” said Manjurul Karim Chowdhury, a navy official involved in the operation. The ill-fated double-decker was 16/17 metres long.
The rescue vessel Kandari-2's side-scan sonar detected the object around a kilometre off Mawa launch terminal. Rescue officials had been working on several possible locations within 20 kilometres downstream from the capsize site.
The side-scan sonar sends a beam of sound waves down to the ocean bed, measures how loud the return echo is and creates an image.
“It was moving fast with strong currents,” the navy official told journalists. Several attempts to hook it to the rescue boat's anchor also have failed.
“We cannot say anything for sure.”
The operation was “paused” around 9:00pm due to bad weather, he told The Daily Star, adding that they will resume the work once the weather improves.
Meanwhile, the death toll from the disaster reached 46 with six more bodies found yesterday. After identification, 28 bodies were handed over to family members after identification. Of those unidentified, three were buried yesterday and 11 on Friday.
The double-decker vessel, which was on its way to Mawa from Kaorakandi, was carrying more than 200 passengers against a capacity of 85. It sank in the face of strong waves and high winds in the mighty river near Lauhajang around 11:00am on Monday.
Meanwhile, family members of those missing are now accusing the government of putting up poor rescue efforts. Many were seen searching bodies of their beloved ones on their own.
Shamsuddoha Khandaker, chairman of BIWTA, told The Daily Star, “We are trying our best.”
Contacted around 3:30pm, the police control at Mawa said 116 passengers are still missing. But around 7:00pm, Inspector Mujibur Rahman announced over loudspeaker that the number is 67. He said they have come to the decision after talking to “every family” over the phone.
Of the 116, police claimed, 49 passengers survived the incident. The Daily Star could so far reach families of 12 survivors.