09/22/2016, 08.59
BANGLADESH
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Crowded ferry overturns in Barisal: at least 17 victims

by Sumon Corraya

The boat was carrying 60 people. Most managed to save themselves by swimming to the shore, but six other people missing. The port official said that the ferry was not registered for passenger transport and had no valid travel permits.

 

Barisal (AsiaNews) – The toll from yesterday’s ferry accident on Sandhya Banaripara river, in the city of Barisal (in southern Bangladesh) worsens by the hour. The authorities are still searching for the missing, a total of six, while they have recovered the bodies of 17 passengers. The last four corpses, all of them children, were pulled this morning in wreck lifting operations.

According to witnesses, the small ferry with 60 people on board overturned because of overcrowding. The boat - called "ML Oisgi" - was traveling on the Banaripara-Swarupkathi route: the strong river current formed a whirlpool that would eroded part of the shore. At that point, the ferry was hit by a wave of mud, which threw the passengers into a panic. To prevent flooding, they moved to the opposite side of the boat, which failed to hold the shift in weight.

Rescuers sprung into action right away, including people who had witnessed the tragedy from the banks of the river. Police Superintendent, SM Akhtaruzzaman, reported that most of the 60 passengers managed to swim to the Bari Masjid station, close to the site of the rollover.

The strong current and the river erosion has slowed the recovery operations, which were halted last night and continued this morning.

Similar incidents are not uncommon in Bangladesh, where obsolete boats carry too many passengers. In 2014 another ferry overturned on the Padma river, near Dhaka, carrying 300 people.

Barisal port officer, Mustafizur Rahman, says the ferry that sank yesterday was not registered as a vessel used to carry passengers and had no valid travel permits.

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