3:27 am - Tuesday January 22, 2019

Bangladesh retrieves 23 bodies

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Dhaka: Authorities in Bangladesh on Thursday said they could recover 23 bodies so far and listed 138 as missing passengers three days after an overloaded ferry plying with an expired licence sank in the midstream of a major river in central Munshiganj while efforts were still underway to track down the vessel.
“Until the midday today, 23 bodies were retrieved as those were found floating in different areas in downstream … 11 of those have been handed over to relatives,” a spokesman of Munshiganj district administration told newsmen.
He added that 137 people were listed as missing while the navy, coastguard and fire service divers continued searches for more bodies in downstream regions.
Overloaded The briefing came as a third rescue vessel joined the salvage campaign to locate the sunken Pinak-6 which sank on Monday with nearly 250 passengers on-board while the regulatory Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) officials said under the expired licence, the ferry was allowed to carry 85 passengers.
Officials earlier said inclement weather disrupted the rescue campaign in the past two days as strong currents stirred up silt in the river, reducing visibility and feared the currents also might also have pushed the wreckage downstream from the site where it sank.
Hundreds of people continued to count hours by the bank of the Padma River for the bodies of their missing relatives while hopes of finding them alive faded hours after the accident.
The accident exposed shipping minister Shahjahan Khan to massive public outrage for failure to ensure safety in riverine routes. Khan himself lost three of his nieces in the accident.
Over 100 passengers, however, were rescued by vessels and speedboats within hours after the accident.
Police yesterday launched a manhunt for the owner and captain of Pinak 6 as a case has been lodged accusing them of murder charges for overloading passengers, plying the ferry with an expired licence, and disregarding instructions not to sail due to bad weather conditions.
Bangladesh witnesses most of the ferry accidents in the southern and northeastern regions during the monsoon, while faulty design of boats and ferries alongside poor safety standards are generally blamed for the disasters.
According to statistics tallied by the media, 5,500 people died in 658 ferry disasters since 1994 with 1,500 people missing in the past two decades.

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