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A crowd of people stood on an overcrowded ferry crossing a river in Bangladesh. File photo from August 28, 2022.
Ferries are a common means of transport in the river-crossed country of 170 million peopleImage: Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/AA/picture alliance
CatastropheBangladesh

Bangladesh: Death toll rises in pilgrim boat accident

September 25, 2022

Police are searching for missing after an overcrowded ferry carrying pilgrims flipped over in the Karotoa River. Hundreds die every year in Bangladesh in similar river accidents.

https://p.dw.com/p/4HJcD

More bodies were recovered on Monday after a boat capsized in a river in Bangladesh the previous day, taking the death toll to at least 50.

The boat was carrying Hindu pilgrims who were heading to a centuries-old temple.

The incident — the worst of its kind in the country this year — took place in the Karotoa River close to the town of Boda in the Panchagarh district, north of Bangladesh.

Several people are still said to be missing. 

"Six more bodies were recovered this morning while divers are searching for more bodies," Reuters quoted Jahurul Islam, district administrator of Panchagarh, as saying. 

The bodies recovered so far included 16 women and 10 children, he added. 

What do we know so far?

The exact number of passengers is not known, but other people who had been on the boat said that the number was close to 70.

A local TV channel shared footage of the incident captured on a mobile phone. It showed the overcrowded boat suddenly tip over, throwing people into the river.

A five-member committee has been probing the incident but they suspect overcrowding caused the accident, Reuters quoted Islam as saying. 

The pilgrims on the boat were headed to the Bodeshwari Temple, which attracts thousands of Hindus in the Muslim-majority country each year.

Sunday was the first day of Durga Puja, the biggest Hindu festival in Bangladesh and eastern India.

Fear among Hindus as religious festival starts

Bangladesh's record of waterway accidents

Fatal incidents such as the one on Sunday are a fairly regular occurrence in the South Asian country that is crisscrossed by rivers and waterways.

Last December, over 40 people were killed when the multistory ferry they were sleeping on caught fire.

Another 32 people were killed when their ferry sank following a collision with a vessel near the capital, Dhaka.

The worst incident in recent years, however, saw 78 people lose their lives when their overcrowded vessel collided with a cargo ship and sank in February 2015.

Experts have blamed a lack of safety regulations as well as poor maintenance for the deadly accidents.

ab/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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