Boat accident leaves 26 dead in Bangladesh

At least 26 people were killed when a speedboat packed with passengers hit a vessel carrying sand. In the latest disaster to hit Bangladesh transportation on water, the speedboat carrying about three dozen passengers from the town of Mawa rammed into the other vessel on the Padma river near the...

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

At least 26 people were killed when a speedboat packed with passengers hit a vessel carrying sand.

In the latest disaster to hit Bangladesh transportation on water, the speedboat carrying about three dozen passengers from the town of Mawa rammed into the other vessel on the Padma river near the rural town of Shibchar.

"We have so far recovered 26 bodies including a woman," police officer Anir Hossain said. "We also rescued five injured people, including three children."

Hossain said the bow of the speedboat was destroyed when it smashed into the side of the sand carrier and sank within minutes.

Witness Abdur Rahman said there was a loud noise with the collision and both vessels overturned.

"We rushed to the spot and found the speedboat in two pieces," he said. "Hundreds of villagers started rescue work before they were joined by police and the fire brigade."

Bangladesh is building the country's largest road and rail bridge near where the collision happened, and the project has slowed regular ferries. That has led many people to go on speedboats.

The administrator of Shibchar district said the driver of the speedboat would be investigated as he hit the transport vessel, which had been moored.

Such accidents are common in Bangladesh, a delta nation crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers.

Experts blame poor maintenance, lax safety standards and overcrowding for most accidents.

But vessels carrying sand sit low in the water and can be hard to see.

In early April, more than 30 people died when a ferry with around 50 passengers hurrying home from the central city of Narayanganj ahead of an impending coronavirus lockdown collided with a cargo vessel.

In June last year a ferry sank in Dhaka after it was hit from behind by another ferry, killing at least 32 people.