Rescuers today called off their search operation for passenger launch Pinak-6 that went down in the Padma waters seven days ago near Mawa Launch Ghat.
Patrolling in different surrounding districts and local efforts will however continue in search for the victims who the authorities assume are no more alive, reports our Munshiganj correspondent.
Though the rescue operation was called off officially, the authorities decided to keep a rescue vessel, either Nirvik or Rustom, on standby.
"We have decided to call off the operation with considering all situations including bad weather. We could not identify the sunken launch yet," Deputy Commissioner of Munshiganj Saiful Hasan Badal said during a press briefing at Padma Bridge Rest House at Mawa.
"It is difficult for the divers to locate any object or the launch in the river due to the strong current," he added.
The meteorological department asked the maritime ports to hoist signal No. 3 due to the bad weather which is also one of the reasons to call off the operation, DC Hasan said.
According to the official calculations, 46 bodies of the victims have been found so far and 61 were still missing.
Of the recovered bodies, 28 were identified and 18 still remain unidentified, he said.
During the seven-day search, six vessels from the BIWTA, coast guard, the navy and fire service conducted an intensive search in around 50 square kilometres area, but could not find anything, DC Hasan said.
"And there is no possibility of getting anything from the 50 square kilometres area. So we have decided to withdraw the agencies after consulting the shipping minister and experts," he said.
Rescuers found a metallic object in the river that suspected to be of the sunken Pinak-6 but yet to identify whether it was of the sunken launch, he told reporters.
A survey vessel Kandari-2 from its side-scan sonar picked up signals of the "metallic object" on Saturday.
Beside Kandari-2, the Chittagong Port Authority earlier sent another survey vessel Jarip-10 to locate the sunken Pinak-6.
The Pinak-6 sank on August 4 with around 200 passengers onboard in the middle of the Padma river in Lauhajang upazila of Munshiganj.
A group of locals yesterday began searching the doomed launch in the mighty Padma and claimed to have “detected an object" around a kilometre off the capsize site.
They started on two boats from the accident spot around 11:00pm yesterday and moved downstream.
The object was detected around 4:00pm yesterday during a second search.
"This could be Pinak-6," Hasan told The Daily Star yesterday evening.
Around 15 people, who work for a mechanical parts shop at Mawa, tied some weight to the middle of a rope and sank it deep into the river to be dragged with the ends of the rope in two boats.
Asked whether they are doing it on their own, Hasan said the shipping minister and upazila chairman of Lauhajang had directed them to carry out the search following a meeting with the locals at Mawa terminal on Friday. He said they have done this type of work in the past.
Meanwhile, a seven-member probe committee, formed by the shipping ministry, will hear testimonies of survivors and witnesses at the rest house tomorrow.