The death toll from a boat accident in Bangladesh has risen to 18, with rescuers pulling five more bodies from the vessel, police said yesterday.
Rescuers found the bodies of four children and a woman inside the hull after the boat was salvaged from the Shandhya River in the district of Barisal, SM Akhteruzzaman, the district police chief, said.
The ML Oishi went down on Wednesday with roughly 60 passengers on board when it was about to anchor at Dasherhaat station, some 110km south of the capital Dhaka.
Akhteruzzaman said that according to the relatives of passengers, eight people were still missing.
Most of those onboard were able to swim ashore while five passengers were rescued, he said.
Many of the boats plying Bangladesh’s waterways do not maintain passenger registers.
Accidents are frequent in the country which is criss-crossed by more than 300 rivers.
While the government has launched an investigation into the accident, an official at the Barisal Port Authority said the boat was overcrowded.
In February 2015, at least 70 people died after a double-deck ferry was hit by a cargo vessel and capsized in a river in central Bangladesh.
Forty-nine people were confirmed dead after a ferry carrying more than 200 passengers sank in the Padma River in August 2014.
Nearly 150 people were killed in March 2012 after an overcrowded ferry carrying about 200 passengers sank in central Bangladesh when it was hit by an oil tanker.
At least 265 people were killed and 1,153 others injured in 210 accidents on roads, waterways and railways across Bangladesh in 12 days from September 7 to 18 during their Eid ul-Adha journeys.
Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity (JKS), a passengers’ welfare association, came up with the statistics at a press conference at the National Press Club in Dhaka on Wednesday.
Addressing the conference, association secretary general Mozammel Haque Chowdhury said the people fell victims to accidents from September 7 to 18.
He said 248 people were killed and 1,056 others injured in 193 accidents on roads and highways, while 10 killed and 30 others injured on waterways during the period.
Besides, seven people were crushed under the wheels of trains and over 50 others suffered injuries as they skidded off the roof of a moving train, he added.
Mozammel claimed that the sufferings of passengers and also the number of accidents marked a rise during this Eid ul-Adha journey compared to the last Eid ul-Fitr journeys.
According to the accident report, 21 people were killed on September 7, 12 on September 8, 13 on September 9, 28 on September 10, 18 on September 11, 23 on Sept 12, 12 on Sept 13, 29 on Sept 14, 13 on Sept 15, 35 on Sept 16, 37 on Sept 17 and 24 on Sept 18.
The association said speeding, reckless driving, risky overtaking, absence of road dividers, unskilled drivers, shabby roads, lack of awareness, overloading, lack of separate lanes for slow vehicles, unfit vehicles and phones were the reasons for accidents.
Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader early this week accepted responsibility for the deadly road accidents and apologised for his failure to stop the mishaps.
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