As they were going down, some passengers of the sunken launch waved frantically and cried at the top of their voice pleading people in nearby boats for help. While many made it to the rescue boats, some ill-fated ones drowned.
A 3:16-minute video posted on Facebook shows the victims' desperate attempts to stay afloat amid strong current just about 700 metres off Mawa terminal.
"It's heartbreaking to see so many people dying in front of my eyes when I had nothing to do," Sam Sumon, an accounting postgraduate of Dhaka Commerce College, who filmed the scene with his mobile phone, told The Daily Star.
En route to Mawa from his village home in Shariatpur after the Eid vacation, he witnessed the entire incident while travelling on another ferry named Ketuki.
The weather was very gloomy and overcast, he said, adding: "The wind was not wild, but I have never seen the river [Padma] in such an aggressive mood."
Rescuers on some 10 speedboats tried to pull up as many Pinak-6 victims as they could.
Someone from Ketuki threw a lifebuoy to help the victims, but it landed way too far from their reach.
"It's not going to help," a man is heard saying in the video.
As the Ketuki passengers started gathering near the railings, screaming and praying, someone is heard saying: "Go to the middle, otherwise we will drown too."
"That woman is drowning. Oh Allah, she's not going to make it!" cried another man.