Locals and fire-brigade divers search for missing passengers in a motorboat that capsized in Daira river in Kishoreganj yesterday. Photo: Star
At least 47 persons, mostly women and children, died and eight went missing after a motorboat capsized on the Daira river at Mithamoin upazila of the district yesterday.
Of the dead, 17 are women and 22 children.
It was the second such disaster in a week. The night before Eid-ul-Azha, at least 87 people died in a launch capsize at Lalmohon in Bhola.
Administration sources in Kishoreganj said the motorboat, MV Chand Miah, went down after it collided head-on with Azmeriganj-bound launch MV Al Helal at around 8:00am.
Of around 80 people it was carrying, some 33 managed to swim ashore, said Sub-Inspector Abdul Motalib of Mithamoin Police Station.
Locals launched a rescue operation immediately after the accident. The bodies they recovered were identified to be of Sharuna,28, Nurul Amin, 24, Ruhina,34, Zafar, 2, Sabita, 25, Shapla, 12, Amjela, 12, Aklima, 12, Shafatullah, 6, Shilpi Begum, 20, Tamzid, 20, Razia, 16, Ratna, 15, Nila, 5, Aleya, 24, Mahmuda, 22, Fazlul Haque, 30, Amanullah, 8, Shilpi Akhtar, 20, Jewel, 12, Anika Akhtar, 10, Chandni, 12, Surajoni Das, 28, Shuvo, 5, Dhrubo, 8, Omar Chowdhury, 6, Tulfi Khatun, 23, Ismat Ara, 7, Moti Miah, 65, Tofazzal Hossain, 5, Niamunnesa, 3, Monwara Khatun, 32, Rozina, 10, Kamala Rani Baishnab, 32, Mou, 12, Bilkis, 25, Zinnat, 6, Jonaki, 19, Rubia, 60, Khadija, 45, Dholu Miah, 12, Jahed, 10, Abu Shahed, 7, Sonia Akhtar, 11, Zahirul Haque Bhuiyan, 32, Afia Akhtar, 7, and Abdur Rouf Miah.
Divers from fire brigade headquarters in the capital reached the scene at around 4:00pm. They salvaged the engine boat at around 7:00pm but could not yet trace eight passengers.
The rescue efforts were called off after the divers confirmed no bodies were trapped inside the vessel.
The district administration has formed a three-member committee to probe the incident. The committee, headed by ADC General Tulshi Ranjan Das, will submit a report within seven days.
While visiting the spot in the afternoon, Md Shah Kamal, deputy commissioner of Kishoreganj, told The Daily Star the death toll was 47.
A union parishad member is among those still missing, he added.
One of the divers said currents in the river might have washed away the eight, most of who hailed from Mithamoin.
Throughout the day, a pall of gloom drifted over the area as relatives gathered along the river bank and identified the bodies of their dear ones being fished out of the water.
The administration gave Tk 2,000 to each of the victims' families for burial purposes.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed shock at the loss of lives in the boat capsize.
In a condolence message, she also prayed for salvation of the departed souls.
Besides, Speaker Abdul Hamid and Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan offered sympathies to the bereaved.
In his statement, the speaker urged the local administration, public representatives and political leaders and workers to stand by the victims' families.
M Abdul Maleque Miah, chairman of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority, visited the capsize site late in the evening.