A terrible ferry accident occurred near Paturia, situated in the east of Dhaka, in Bangladesh on the 22nd of February, 2015, leading to the deaths of many of the passengers. The ferry collided with a trawler in the river Padma and capsized as a consequence of the impact. Within minutes of the collision, the ferry sank into river Padma. It was carrying more than 100 passengers onboard.
Rescue workers recovering corpses of the victims. (AFP Photo: Munir Uz Zaman).
The ferry was travelling in the direction of Paturia from Daulatdia, the two being on opposite sides of the river, when the collision happened. Bangladesh is said to be hit by this type of disasters regularly. Sometimes, hundreds of people are killed in the aftermath of such ferry accidents. The country has a number of inland waterways across which the inhabitants travel while the safety measures are not as strict – a deadly combination. The calamity that occurred yesterday resulted in the death of more than 60 people.
Rescue workers have been dragging passengers out of the water, both alive and dead. By today morning, the death toll had reached 69. More and more corpses have been recovered from the boat.
Around 50 passengers are said to have swam to the shore or were rescued by other vessels.
“This morning the bodies were found in the boat after it was raised and dragged to the shore. The death toll is now 69,” said inspector Abdul Muktadir, adding the boat was salvaged 16 hours after it sank.
The sunken ferry was pulled from the water by a crane fitted on a salvage crane. Thereafter, divers were able to reach into the boat to rescue the people.
The death toll is expected to be even higher as the divers had only searched one part of the ferry. The other regions of the boat are yet to be searched.
The small boat was overcrowded with passengers in both the upper and lower decks.
One of the passengers, an 18-year-old young man going by the name of Al-Amin, who made it back alive gave his testimony:
“I was holding my mother’s hand when the cargo boat hit our ferry from behind. Within two minutes the ferry was sunk. Before I realised I was washed away to the middle of the river. I swam and a ferry rescued me. But I don’t know what happened to my mum.”
The locals had gathered at the shore of the river. Family and relatives of the passengers were also waiting for news of their loved ones. Dead victims of the collision were carried to the land in white body bags. The latter were then unzipped to the horror of family members who would identify the bodies.
Rescue workers carry the dead body of a victim in a white body bag
The bodies of victims brought to land. (AFP Photo Munir Uz Zaman).
It is not known as to how many victims are there in total. It is difficult to establish a list of missing passengers to help the rescue workers have a clear idea about the number of individuals they have to search for because ferries do not normally have passenger lists.
The shipping minister, Shahjahan Khan, claimed that the coat was racing with other vessels which led to the collision. The government has ordered for an investigation. Experts are of the opinion that most accidents of this nature occurring in Bangladesh are the result of flawed designs of the vessels, poor maintenance of the boats, and overcrowding.
The man who was driving the cargo vessel was arrested together with two other people.