Twenty-nine hours after a cargo vessel had capsized rescuers were preparing to dive one last time to recover the body of one Shohag Howlader.
Hearing the news, Shohag's brother reached the scene, awaiting his brother's corpse, his eyes scanning the watery grave 30 feet under which his brother lay.
Back home, his mother had been crying ever since the news of his probable death broke.
The sand-carrying vessel sank near Dhakeswari Sonachar area under Bandar upazila around 11:00am Wednesday after it hit a sunken BIWTC vessel. Of the six labourers in the vessel, five managed to swim ashore.
There was no trace though of Shohag Hawladar, 30, engine-maker of the ill-fated MV Musapur.
During the final mission the next afternoon, a Bandar upazila Fire Service diver brought some miraculous news. Shohag was still alive, trapped in the engine room.
By some twist of fate, Shohag had shut the door to the engine room when he began his work. While this may have prevented him from realising the boat was sinking, it also stopped the water from gushing in.
Diver Abdul Jahangir Shikder said Shohag was stranded in the engine room and could escape death because water had only entered a portion of it.
According to Jahangir, since the entire room wasn't flooded, it created a pocket of oxygen that allowed Shohag to breathe. But he added that the oxygen would run out in a day or so.
Shohag was finally rescued 29 hours after his ordeal had begun.
Abu Taher Khan, officer-in-charge of Narayanganj River Police, said divers failed to locate Shohag in two earlier operations and had given up all hope.
He was miraculously found alive under 30 feet deep water during a mission to find his corpse, said the OC.
“I came to receive his corpse but found him alive,” said a relieved Sumon.
Later, the labourers alleged that the sunken BIWTC vessel had not been salvaged for over a year and had caused such accidents before.
BIWTC officials, who are in charge of salvaging the ship, could be not be immediately reached for a comment.
Shohag's uncle Alamgir Hossain said divers conducted rescue operations on Wednesday but failed to find him. They had conducted another operation to find his body yesterday morning but failed again.
After being rescued, Shohag was first taken to Narayanganj 300-bed Hospital and later sent to Dhaka Medical College Hospital for treatment.
Tahmina Naznin, a doctor at the emergency unit of Narayanganj 300-bed Hospital, said Shohag was physically well. However, he will have to be kept under observation for the next two to three days, she added.