Cargo Ship Drags and Sinks Ferry Killing Eight in Bangladesh
Eight bodies have been recovered from the latest ferry accident in Bangladesh in which a cargo ship ran down a small river ferry approximately 12 miles from the capital city of Dhaka. Officials are saying that they believe at least four people are still missing, while admitting that they were uncertain how many people were aboard the crowded ferry. The captain and seven crewmembers from the cargo ship have been arrested while the investigation is ongoing.
Onlookers watched horrified as the cargo ship named Ruposhi-9 initially dragged the ferry loaded with people along the river. The small ferry, named ML Asraf Uddin, was carrying anywhere between 30 and 50 or even 60 people. The ferry was operating in an industrial area known as Al Aminnagar when it became caught on the bulbous bow of the larger cargo ship.
Initial images of the accident show the ferry being pushed along the river while people can be heard screaming before the ferry begins to capsize and people were thrown into the river. The fire and civil defense authority responded to the scene and later reported that approximately 15 to 20 people were able to swim to safety. A rescue vessel from the Bangladesh Inland Water and Transport Authority also combed the river while three divers searched the area.
The naval police reported that they seized the cargo ship shortly after the accident, which happened at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 20. On Monday, the captain, engineer, and six other crewmembers from the cargo ship were arrested and brought before a court that ordered them held for seven days while the investigation is proceeding.
On Monday, the Water Transport Authority also reported that they had retrieved the ferry that sank in the river. No additional bodies were found on the ferry, but the authority has taken action to suspend the ferry service while the investigation is ongoing.
“Lack of skill among launch drivers, carelessness, small sizes of vessels are some of the many reasons for the suspension of launch movements on this route,” said Masud Kamal, joint director of BIWTA Narayanganj river port.
Ferries remain a common means of transportation in Bangladesh despite having a poor safety record. Authorities estimate in the past 30 years there have been 550 ferry accidents on the waterways in Bangladesh with approximately 3,600 people killed and more than 500 additional people having been reported as missing. In December 2021, at least 49 people were killed and many more injured when a fire broke out on a ferry operating in a remote southern region of the country. Another ferry collision in August 2021 claimed 21 lives while in April 2021 27 were killed in a ferry collision.