Ferry flips in Padma with 17 vehicles
A ferry tipped onto its side in Manikganj yesterday and was lying half submerged in the Padma river more than 10 hours later, with at least seven vehicles still under water.
No casualties were reported in the accident that occurred at the Paturia Ferry Terminal around 9:35am, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) Chairman Tajul Islam told The Daily Star in the evening.
People on the ferry were able to get off, he said.
Three vehicles out of 17 trucks and covered vans were also able to disembark the ferry as it slowly tipped over , Zillar Rahman, deputy general manager of BIWTC, said. Seven of the vehicles were recovered later, leaving seven still submerged, he added.
"Rescue operations are still going on with a salvage vessel," he told The Daily Star around 8:00pm.
Replying to a question, he said, "Rescuing vehicles from under water is a very tough job and it is not possible to say when we will be able to complete the rescue operation."
He also said there were some motorcycles on the ferry which sank when the accident happened.
While anchoring at Pontoon 5 of the terminal, the ferry named Shah Amanat tipped over at 9:35am with at least 14 vehicles still on it.
BIWTC chairman Tajul Islam, who visited the spot, said they could not ascertain the reason behind the incident.
A high-powered committee has been formed to unearth the reason. They will start work today and upon completion of the probe, they will know the cause of the accident, he added.
"However, the master of the ferry told us that he could sense the ferry was tilting towards one side while in mid river. Then he sped up and took the ferry to the bank," the chairman told The Daily Star yesterday.
"We thank him for his quick thinking," the chairman said.
However, some passengers claimed the vessel sank as water entered it due to a leak in the hull.
The ferry was built in 1980 and its lifetime expired a year ago. It has since been running on temporary permission of 45 days, said the chairman.
The ferry had started for Paturia from Daulatdia terminal of Rajbari district around 9:00 am with 17 trucks, a covered van and four motorcycles on board.
PROBE COMMITTEE FORMED
The shipping ministry yesterday formed a seven-member committee to investigate the incident.
Led by Sultan Abdul Hamid, additional secretary (development) of the ministry, the committee was asked to submit its report within seven days, reads a shipping ministry circular.
The committee was also tasked to look into the other recent ferry accidents and make recommendations to improve ferry services.
The other members of the committee are: Rafiqul Islam Talukder, director (ICT) of BIWTA, Captain Sayeed Ahmed, nautical surveyor and examiner of shipping department; deputy director of local government, Manikganj; Zobair Ibn Awal, associate professor of naval architecture and marine engineering department of Buet; Jasim Uddin, superintendent of River Police of Faridpur region and Rashedul Islam, director (technical) of BIWTC.
[Our Manikganj correspondent contributed to this report]