Thirteen dead bodies have been recovered while 10 others remained missing after a small launch capsized with around 60 passengers in the Sandhya River at Banaripara in Barisal Wednesday morning.
The launch, ML Oishi, was plying on Banaripara-Swarupkathi route. It sank at Dasherhaat Point around 11:30am.
Barisal Port Officer Mustafizur Rahman said that the launch was not registered as a passenger-carrying vessel and had no valid route permit.
Of the victims, six were female passengers of the launch, Ziaul Hasan, OC of Banaripara police, said, adding that the bodies were handed over to their family members.
The district administration has given Tk10,000 as burial cost for each of the dead.
The rescue operation was suspended around 10pm due to poor lighting arrangements. Meanwhile, officials said a rescue ship was on its way to salvage the launch. It may reach the spot in the morning.
Dr Gazi Md Saifuzzaman, deputy commissioner of Barisal, said that a nine-member probe committee led by Additional District Magistrate Zakir Hossain had been formed to investigate the accident.
Superintendent of Police SM Akhtaruzzaman said that most of the 60 passengers on the launch succeeded to swim to the shore as it had capsized near the Masjid Bari station on the river bank.
[caption id="attachment_17330" align="aligncenter" width="880"]
Locals join hands with fire fighters to rescue passengers of the launch that capsized Wednesday morning[/caption]
Faruk Hossain Sikdar, assistant director of Fire Service and Civil Defence's Barisal station, said that local people and the fire service frogmen started rescue operation immediately.
However, strong current and river erosion hampered the rescue operation, he added.
Rokhsana Begum, one of the rescued passengers, said that the river stream created a strong whirlpool after a portion of the river bank eroded away. The launch capsized as the panicked passengers rushed to one side of the vessel.
Local lawmakers Abul Hasanat Abdullah and Talukder Md Yunus, and government officials visited the spot to supervise the rescue operation.