The death toll from the launch capsize in the Shitalakkhya River has climbed to 30 as scores still remain missing
“If not alive, please find me the dead body at least. I don't want anything else. I just want to see my little sister for the last time.”
Although the bodies of Mahim’s mother Maksuda Begum and father Anwar Hossain were found, eight-month-old sister Mansura’s body was nowhere to be found.
Losing his parents and sister, 12-year-old Mahim is left in a world of despair.
Mahim said: “I have no one else. Who will I call father now, who will I call mother? God took everything from me. What am I going to do now?”
As Mahim put it, on Sunday afternoon his father Anwar Hossain and mother Maksuda Begum came to Narayanganj from Shonir Akhra with his younger sister to go to Mahim's grandparents’ house in Munshiganj by launch.
Mahim's uncle later called him and informed him about the launch capsize.
The death toll from the launch capsize in the Shitalakkhya River has climbed to 30 after a rescue ship pulled out the launch from the water.
The banks of the Shitalakshya have become heavy with the wailing of the relatives of the missing passengers. Relatives urged that the bodies of the dead even if no one was alive be found.
Saiful Islam, a survivor of the recent Shitalakkhya launch capsize, was seen frantically searching for his missing grandchild, Omar Faruq alias Ajmir Hossain, near the river bank on Monday morning.
The two-year-old was with Saiful on Sunday when the passenger vessel ML Sabit Al Hasan sank.
“Ajmir was playing on my lap when suddenly the big ship hit our launch thrice near the Syedpur area. Then I lost my grandson in all the chaos. I couldn’t find him anywhere.
“I don’t want anything. Just find me my grandson’s dead body and then I’ll leave,” a devastated Saiful, who was crying his heart out, pleaded to the correspondent.
Meanwhile, the missing child’s mother, Sheuli Begum, went into a state of shock when she received news of the fatal accident.
“Where did my beloved son go? Give me back my son,” Sheuli cried out loud.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Salma Begum, a member of Sheuli’s family, said: “She [Sheuli] got married to Saiful’s son Sohail Hossain three years ago. But they weren’t happy in the marriage. A few days ago, Sheuli left Sohail’s place and brought Ajmir to her father's house in Munshiganj.”
“But on Sunday, Sohail came and took their son and went back to his place. However, on the same day, in the afternoon, Saiful left for Munshiganj on the launch from Bandar upazila to have Ajmir returned to his mother.”
The launch capsize
Around 7pm on Sunday, the passenger vessel, ML Sabit Al Hasan, sank after colliding with the cargo ship, SKL-3, at the mouth of the Syedpur Koyla Ghat on the Shitalakkhya River in Munshiganj. Police and onlookers said the cargo vessel fled the scene after the collision.
The launch had an estimated 150 passengers. Port Police Officer-in-Charge (OC) Deepak Chandra Saha confirmed that 50-60 of them were able to swim to the two banks, but three of them had to be rushed to the hospital.
So far, a total of 30 bodies have been recovered from the launch of whom 16 were women, nine men and five children.
The recovered bodies were handed over to their relatives and the district administration gave a grant of Tk25,000 to each family for the burial of the deceased.
However, many passengers are still missing, confirmed Narayanganj Deputy Commissioner (DC) Mostain Billah.
Deputy Commissioner Mostain Billah told Dhaka Tribune that the rescue operation by the Fire Service, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority and the Navy's rescue divers has been officially completed. Naval channels have been opened for navigation.
He added that the naval police were conducting an operation to seize the lighter named SK3.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Saleuddin, assistant director of the Fire Service headquarters, said that although the rescue operation was completed by the district administration, the fire service continued. The rescue operation will continue till the whereabouts of all the missing is found.
Mrinal Kanti Das, MP of Munshiganj sadar constituency, said that boat accidents are continuously occuring 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 also spoken about this in the National Assembly but accidents have not stopped."
He demanded the administration to stop anchoring lighter ships in the Shitalakshya naval channel and take permanent measures to prevent accidents.