• Thursday, Dec 08, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Padma tragedy: Speedboat pilot was on drugs, say officials

  • Published at 04:07 am May 7th, 2021
Speedboat Madaripur Padma River
Policemen inspect a speedboat that was carrying passengers when it collided with a vessel transporting sand killing at least 26 people, in Madaripur on May 3, 2021 AFP

26 people died after a speedboat rammed into a sand carrier on the Padma River on May 3

The pilot of the speedboat that sank after hitting a sand-laden vessel on the Padma River was on drugs when the fatal crash took place.

The dope test of 38-year-old Md Shah Alam returned positive, officials said.

Citing the test report, Madaripur Deputy Commissioner Rahima Khatun said Alam was intoxicated while making the crossing on the morning of May 3.

The report says Alam used methamphetamine-based yaba tablets and smoked cannabis, according to Shibchar Upazila Health Officer Shashanka Chandra Ghosh.

Also Read - Speedboat owners among 4 booked over accident in Padma

Twenty-six people were killed when the Banglabazar-bound speedboat from Shimulia ferry terminal went down on May 3 after hitting a sand-laden bulk carrier near Kanthalbari ferry terminal in Madaripur's Shibchar upazila.

Local fire service and river police personnel conduct a search and rescue operation after the collision between a speedboat and a cargo vessel in the Padma River on Monday, May 3, 2021 | Collected/Bangla Tribune

Six people, including Shah Alam, were rescued alive. He was taken to Shibchar Upazila Health Complex and later moved to the medical college hospital in Faridpur. His samples were collected at the Shibchar hospital. 

Alam was later transferred to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital and is undergoing treatment there under police custody.

Police said Alam, who hails from Narayanganj, has been living in Shimula for the last 18 years.

Also Read - ‘I asked you not to travel during the lockdown’

The survivors of the crash, blamed Alam for the accident, saying he was driving recklessly right from the start of their trip.

No arrests yet

Law enforcers are yet to make any arrest of the accused four days after the incident.

The Kanthalbari river police unit started a case against four people, including Alam, speedboat owners Chandu Molla and Rezaul, and the lessee of the speedboat wharf Shah Alam Khan with Shibchar police station on May 3 night.

The speedboat is seen ashore after it collided with a sand-laden bulk carrier and sank on the Padma River in Madaripur, May 3, 2021 | Reuters

Sub-Inspector Al Amin of the Charjanajat river police outpost, also the investigating officer (IO), said a number of teams of river police, Police Bureau of Investigation (PIB), and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) were conducting drives to arrest the accused.

Citing physicians, he said diver Shah Alam is not out of danger now. "He cannot speak because of the severe head injury."

After the incident, the district administration in Madaripur and Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority launched investigations into the disaster. 

The speedboat was not supposed to carry passengers as travel through the rivers has been suspended since April 5 when the government imposed virus restrictions.

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