Dhaka, 3 March, redtimesbd.com:
At least 32 people died and over 200 went missing when a passenger launch capsized in the Meghna River after a cargo boat hit it in Gazaria upazila of Munshiganj early Tuesday.
Rescuers found the bodies of two men, which were floating in the water near 'Char Kishori’, at 11:45am. Later, they found 29 more bodies there.
Identity of the dead victims could not be learnt immediately.
Thirty of the passengers of the Dhaka-bound ‘MV Shariatpur-1’ managed to swim ashore while the rest remain missing, reported our Munshiganj correspondent.
While visiting Char Kishori in the afternoon, Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan announced that Tk 30,000 will be provided for a victim's family and Tk 45,000 for the family with more than one victim.
Meanwhile, the government has formed a five-member committee, which will submit a report in five days after investigating the incident. Md Baitul Amin Bhuiyan, joint secretary of Shipping Ministry, has been made head of the committee.
According to Md Azizul Alam, deputy commissioner of Munshiganj, the Dhaka-bound launch sank into the river after an oil-laden cargo boat dashed it around 2:30am.
Only 30 of the passengers could swim to the shore.
Dulal Dewan, one of the survivors, told The Daily Star he could reach the shore after efforts.
“But eight of my family members are remaining missing,” Dewan said.
He informed the double-decker left Naria of Shariatpur with over 250 passengers for Dhaka around 9:30pm Monday and the accident took place when it reached Char Kishori.
On information, members of Bangladesh Coast Guard, Rapid Action Battalion, local police and Fire Brigade personnel reached the spot and started rescue operation.
Rescue vessel MV Rustom reached the area at 8:30am and started working to locate the capsized launch.
“We succeeded to spot the launch at Char Kishori at 11:30am,” Shamsuddoha Khondker, chairman of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority, told redtimesbd.com.
Operation to salvage the sunken launch will start when another rescue vessel Hamza will join Rustom in the evening, said Shahidul Islam, officer-in-charge of Gazaria Police Station.
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