Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

At least 30 die in Bangladesh ferry accident

The ferry sank as it was about to moor at Sadarghat, Dhaka's main river port

A relative of one of the victims of a ferry accident mourns as rescue workers unload bodies in Dhaka on June 29, 2020. AFP
A relative of one of the victims of a ferry accident mourns as rescue workers unload bodies in Dhaka on June 29, 2020. AFP

At least 30 people died and a dozen are missing after a ferry capsized and sank on Monday in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka after a collision with another vessel, rescue officials said.

The Morning Bird was hit from behind by another ferry at about 9.30am during the morning rush hour, when the country's largest river port is packed with vessels.

"We have collected 30 bodies, including 20 males, seven women and three children," said Abul Khair, a diver in the fire brigade.

Coastguard spokesman Cdr Hayet Ibne Siddique said: "There were at least 50 people on board. Our rescue divers are still searching."

The ferry – which departed from central Munshiganj district – sank as it was about to moor at Sadarghat, Dhaka's main river port used by hundreds of boats to travel to the country's south.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority chief Cdre Golam Sadeqk said the single-deck ship was "not overcrowded" and sank "due to carelessness".

He said the vessel had been cleared to carry passengers until September.

Witnesses told local television stations many passengers appeared to be stuck in the ferry's cabins.

Divers were still pulling bodies from the wreck in water 12 to 15 metres deep.

Another boat would later arrive to lift the damaged vessel from the water, Cdr Siddique said.

Relatives gathered at Sadarghat despite coronavirus social distancing concerns.

"I still don't know what happened to them," said a man searching for his cousin and another relative.

Boat accidents are common in Bangladesh, which is crisscrossed by more than 230 rivers.

The South Asian nation is heavily reliant on ferries for transport but has had a poor safety record.

Experts blame badly maintained vessels, lax safety standards at shipyards and overcrowding for many of the accidents.

In February, 2015, at least 78 people died when an overcrowded ship collided with a cargo boat in a central river.

The number of accidents has dropped sharply in recent years as authorities crack down on unseaworthy vessels.

Updated: June 29, 2020 03:38 PM

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