Bangladesh: 26 dead in the sinking of a ferry (new record)

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Narayanganj | At least 26 people were killed in a ferry sinking in a Bangladeshi river on Sunday after a collision with another boat, rescuers said on Monday after the wreck was refloated.

A previous report reported 20 dead.

The Sabit Al Hasan sank late Sunday afternoon following a collision with a larger freighter on the Shitalakshya River, after leaving Narayanganj, 20 km from the capital of Dhaka, bound for the neighboring district of Munshiganj.

The boat was pulled out of the heavily polluted waters of this river on Monday at noon.

“The death toll is 26. We found 21 bodies in the boat, ”Mustain Billah, a local official, told AFP.

A local police official told AFP the ferry was full of passengers eager to leave Narayanganj, after the government instituted a seven-day nationwide lockdown from Monday to tackle a recent increase in COVID cases -19.

Mr. Billah said the ferry was carrying at least 46 people.

“About 20 people managed to swim to the shore after the sinking,” he told AFP, adding that there may still be people missing. “We have ordered an investigation into the accident.”

Dipak Saha, local police chief, said the search was complicated for hours by a powerful storm that began after the accident.

As part of the restrictive measures taken to fight the pandemic, the circulation of buses, ferries, trains and planes is suspended from Monday.

Shops and malls will be closed for a week, and a nighttime curfew will be imposed.

Ferry accidents are relatively frequent in Bangladesh, a country streaked with a multitude of rivers.

Millions of people depend on these boats for transport, especially in the southern coastal region of the country, but the boats are often overloaded and damaged.

In June last year, a ferry sank in Dhaka after being struck by another boat, and at least 32 people were killed.

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