N’ganj launch capsize: Death toll 29, 7 still missing | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 06, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:20 AM, April 06, 2021

N’ganj launch capsize: Death toll 29, 7 still missing

Twenty-nine bodies were recovered and seven people remained missing till last night after a passenger launch capsized in the Shitalakkhya river in Narayanganj on Sunday.

Among the deceased are 15 women, six children and eight men, said Narayanganj Sadar Upazila Nirbahi Officer Nahida Barik. The bodies were handed to family members and relatives.

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Families of each of the deceased were provided with Tk 25,000 for funeral expenses on behalf of the district administration, the UNO said.

Rescue operations to trace the seven missing persons were going on when this report was filed around 8:00pm.

The launch named Sabit Al Hasan left Narayanganj Launch Terminal for Munshiganj with nearly 50 passengers around 5:56pm on Sunday. Around 15 minutes later, it sank near the third Shitalakkhya Bridge at Koylaghat of Syedpur area when it was hit and dragged by a tanker.

Immediately after the accident, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), Fire Service and Civil Defence, Coast Guard and Police joined the rescue operation.

Five bodies were recovered on Sunday night, but authorities concerned had to halt the rescue operations around 2:00am yesterday due to adverse weather.

After a four-hour break, the BIWTA resumed the rescue operation around 6:00am yesterday. A rescue vessel of BIWTA started its operation to salvage the sunken launch around 10:00am.

The capsized launch was pulled out of the water around 12:20pm, said Abdullah Arefin, deputy assistant director of Fire Service and Civil Defence in Narayanganj.

Contacted, Babu Lal Baidya, assistant director of BIWTA at Narayanganj Launch Terminal, said, "In primary investigation, we have come to know that the passenger launched was rammed by cargo tanker SKL-3. We will take further legal action after talking to the higher authorities concerned."

Speaking to The Daily Star, Shaheedul Islam, officer-in-charge (OC) of Narayanganj River Police, said, "We will start a drive to seize the tanker after a case is filed against it."

Contacted, Narayanganj launch owners' association's President Badiuzzaman Badal said, "We will surely file a case against the vessel."

'THEY DIED ON THEIR WAY HOME'

Sorrow and grief engulfed the area since dead bodies of victims were being kept on the bank of the Shitalakkhya since Sunday night.

Family members and relatives of the victims broke down with grief upon seeing bodies of their loved ones.

Most of the deceased were residents of Munshiganj.

Twelve-year-old Mahin was rendered speechless when he saw the bodies of his father and mother last evening. The body of his eight-year-old sister was recovered later in the night.

"We live in Sonir Akhra in the capital. My father, mother and sister were going to our village home in Munshiganj," said Mahin.

"Now, I have become alone. How will I spend the rest of my life without them?" he wailed.

Three members of a family of Munshiganj Sadar upazila's Ramjanbeg village also died in the accident.

"My wife, daughter and mother-in-law have died in the accident," said Mohammad Arif, a resident of the village.

"My wife Brithi Begum was 25 years old, daughter Arifa was one and mother-in-law Pokhina Begum was 45. They had gone to a diagnostic centre in Narayanganj. They died on their way home."

Two sisters -- Lata Begum, 22, and Sadia Akhter, 10 -- who were residents of Nayagaon area of Munshiganj town, went to visit a doctor in Narayanganj. They died on their way home, said their elder sister Tuni Begum.

Protima Ghoshal, 45, a resident of Malpara area of Munshiganj town, used to work in a government office in Narayanganj. She was returning home on the launch and lost her life on the journey, said her husband Pritimoy Ghoshal.

He also said his wife usually travelled between Munshiganj and Narayanganj by road. But she along with some other people opted to travel by launch that day to avoid the rush on the highway following the announcement of the seven-day restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus.

[Our Correspondents from Narayanganj and Munshiganj contributed to the report] 

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