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Case filed over Shitalakkhya launch capsize

  • Published at 05:35 pm April 6th, 2021
Shitalakkhya launch capsize
File photo: Rescue team pulling out the capsized launch which sank after colliding with a cargo vessel in the Shitalakkhya River on Sunday, April, 4, 2021 Dhaka Tribune

Death toll from the incident has reached 34

A case has been filed over Sunday's launch capsize on the Shitalakkhya River which left at least 34 people dead, blaming the erratic driving of the cargo vessel that collided with the launch.

Babu Lal Boiddo, acting deputy director of the Narayanganj office of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), lodged the case with Narayanganj port police station accusing an indefinite number of unnamed people, confirmed the station’s OC Dipak Chandra Saha on Tuesday night.

Around 7pm on Sunday, passenger vessel ML Sabit Al Hasan sank after colliding with cargo ship SKL-3 at the mouth of Syedpur Koyla Ghat on the Shitalakkhya River in Munshiganj.

Contacted, Babu Lal said: “Watching the video footage of the incident, we noticed that the cargo ship pressed down on the passenger launch and fled the scene.”

“We could not find any trace of the cargo vessel afterwards. We suspect that it crossed the Meghna River through Dhaleshwari,” he added.

The erratic driving of the cargo vessel operator and illegal overtaking caused the incident, the BIWTA official said.

The death toll from Sunday's launch capsize climbed to 34 after four more bodies were recovered around 10am on Tuesday, confirmed Narayanganj Fire Service and Civil Defence Deputy Director Abdullah Al Arefin.

Earlier, the Navy, Coast Guard, Fire Services and police recovered five bodies on Sunday and 25 bodies on Monday.

Of the 30 bodies recovered till 4:30pm on Monday, 16 were women, nine men and five children.

The launch had an estimated 150 passengers. Port police station OC Deepak Chandra Saha said 50-60 of them were able to swim to the banks, but three of them had to be rushed to the hospital.

Mrinal Kanti Das, MP of Munshiganj Sadar constituency, said boat accidents are continuously occurring on the Shitalakshya river and most of the people who lose their lives are from Munshiganj. Everybody only pays attention when a big accident happens.

He said: "I have spoken about this in the National Assembly, but accidents have not stopped."

He demanded that the administration stop the anchoring of lighter ships in the Shitalakshya naval channel and take permanent measures to prevent accidents.

Probe bodies

A total of four probe committees have been formed to investigate the incident, so far.

Deputy Commissioner Mostain Billah said on Monday that a seven-member probe committee headed by Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Kharija Tahera Bobby had been formed to investigate the incident.

He also said bodies have been handed over to families and the district administration has granted Tk25,000 to each of the deceased’s family for the burial process. 

The BIWTA formed a four-member investigation committee, led by BIWTA director (Maritime Security) Rafiqul Islam, as per the directive of BIWTA Chairman Commodore Golam Sadeq.

Another seven-member probe committee was formed with Abdur Sattar Sheikh, joint secretary of the shipping ministry, as convener. An office order was issued in this regard by the Ministry of Shipping on Monday.

A three-member committee with Department of Shipping Engineer and Chief Surveyor Mohammad Ehtasanul Haque Fakir was also formed to investigate the accident.

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