• Mon. Mar 27th, 2023

    Death toll in Bangladesh boat tragedy climbs to 32


    Sep 26, 2022

    DHAKA: Rescue workers recovered seven more bodies on Monday after a boat carrying religious pilgrims capsized in Bangladesh, raising the death toll to 32 with scores still missing, police said.

    The small boat packed with mostly women and children on their way to the popular Bodeshwari Temple flipped over on Sunday in a river as onlookers screamed in horror from the shore.

    The incident in a remote area in northern Bangladesh was the latest in a string of similar tragedies blamed on poor maintenance and overcrowding in the low-lying delta country.

    District police chief Sirajul Huda said the seven bodies were found in the Karotoa river downstream from where the boat capsized, near the town of Boda. It carried about 90 people, more than the 50 pilgrims that police on Sunday initially said were aboard.

    “Sixty people are still missing,” Huda told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

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    “It was carrying three times its capacity. There were heavy rains in the morning and that is why when the ferrying began, pilgrims packed the boat to make it quickly to the temple,” he said. “The boatman asked some people to disembark in an effort to ease the weight-load. But no one listened.”

    Local media said at least 10 people had been rescued and sent to the hospital.

    Mobile phone footage aired by television station Channel 24 showed the overcrowded boat suddenly flipping over, spilling the passengers into the muddy brown river.

    Dozens of people watching from the shore started shouting and screaming. The weather was calm at the time.

    Thousands of Hindus in Muslim-majority Bangladesh visit the centuries-old temple every year.

    Sunday marked the start of Durga Puja, the biggest Hindu festival in Bangladesh — and also eastern India — drawing large crowds to the temple.

    Last December, about 40 people perished when a packed three-story ferry caught fire in southern Bangladesh.

    A ferry sank in Dhaka in June 2020 after a collision with another vessel, killing at least 32 people.

    And at least 78 people perished in 2015 when an overcrowded ship collided with a cargo vessel in a river west of the capital.


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