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Ship with 300 Passengers Sinks in Bangladesh
Over 30 Bodies Recovered and 150 Still Missing
By Ataur Rahman
Bangladesh Correspondent
A survival is being rescued from an accident where a ship with 300 passengers capsized in Bangladesh on March 13, 2012.

DHAKA March 13, 2012 — A passenger ship with some 300 passengers on board capsized overnight in Bangladesh's Meghna River after a head-on collision with a sand carrying vessel. a total of 32 bodies were recover from the river, officials and witnesses here toady said.

"50 passengers swam ashore or were rescued by nearby fishing boats ... We fear over 150 passengers are missing," President Badiuzzaman Badal of Inland Waterways Passenger Career Association told journalists.

He said the double-deck MV Shariatpur-1 was coming to Dhaka's Sadarghat Terminal from western Shariatpur when it collided with another vessel at about two this morning at Gajaria area of Munshiganj. "I saw people are floating on the water ... We salvaged several of them," the master of another launch that joined the instant rescue campaign told newsmen.

The bodies of 32 people, three of them being minor girls and four being women, were retrieved by the rescuers as those were floating on the water while Navy divers joined the Fire Service, paramilitary Coast Guard and BIWTA personnel in the rescue campaign.

Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan who visited the scene said that contrary of the earlier report that an oil tanker hit the launch, initial investigation found that it capsized in collision with a sand carrying vessel.

"Rescue campaign is underway and three investigation committees were constituted and appropriate action will be taken on receipt of their findings," Khan told BSS at the scene.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) officials said a salvage vessel of theirs reached the scene and located the ferry 70 feet under the water at the mid river.

"The launch sank quickly as it was hit (by a sand carrying vessel) ... at least 30 minor children were traveling in the launch along with their parents," a survivor told the newsmen.

Officials said that the exact number of the passengers could not be confirmed as the launch did not maintain a register but most of the passengers were residents of Shariatpur who were coming to the capital to join works or business purposes.

Quoting relatives, an official of Shariatpur district administration said that three of the missing people were Bangladesh-born US nationals who were returning to the United States after visiting their village home.

People including relatives of the missing passengers wait with anxious look on both sides of the river at Shatnal area as Coast Guard and Fire Service divers were trying to find the missing passengers.

Officials earlier said that a five-member committee was constituted by the Shipping Ministry for investigation into the launch capsize.

But the minister later said that two more investigation committees comprising Shipping Department and BIWTA officials were constituted to find out reason behind the accident.



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Mr. Ataur Rahman serves as Bangladesh Correspondent for the Seoul Times. He earned his Master of Commerce degree from Dhaka University in 1985. Mr. Rahman has vast journalistic experience including his stints at The Daily Janata and The Dainik Bangla.

 

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