• Friday, Jul 10, 2020
  • Last Update : 04:50 pm

BIWTA calls off Buriganga launch capsize rescue operations

  • Published at 12:56 pm June 30th, 2020
BIWTA's rescue ship Duranto joins the effort to salvage ML Morning Bird, which capsized on Monday, from the Buriganga River on Tuesday morning, June 30, 2020
BIWTA's rescue ship Duranto joins the effort to salvage ML Morning Bird, which capsized on Monday, from the Buriganga River on Tuesday morning, June 30, 2020 Md Manik/Dhaka Tribune

Death toll from Monday's horrific incident climbs to 33

The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) called off rescue and salvage operations for the capsized ML Morning launch around 2:30pm on Tuesday, according to Fire Service headquarters control room in-charge Enayetur Rahman. 

However, Fire Services teams are continuing patrols until they are satisfied there are no more survivors or bodies, he added. 

Earlier, the diving teams of Fire Service and Civil Defence and Bangladesh Coast Guard recovered the body of a child around 12:45pm on Tuesday, taking the death toll to 33.

The sunken launch ML Morning Bird was brought to the surface of the water around 26 hours after the incident.

On Monday morning, the Morning Bird, coming from Munshiganj, sank in the Buriganga after a larger vessel -- Mayur 2 -- horrifically crashed into it in reverse near Farashganj Ghat in Dhaka.

The three-deck Mayur 2 was on its way to dock at Sadarghat's terminal for Chandpur-bound vessels after unloading passengers at the Lalkuthi terminal.

At the time of the capsize, 9:13am, Morning Bird -- which could carry 125 people -- was carrying 50- 80 passengers, survivors and officials in Munshiganj and Dhaka said. No one was certain of the exact number.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) rescue ship Duranto joined the operation on Tuesday morning. 

Earlier on Monday, another rescue vessel, Prottoy, which was supposed to come and salvage the launch, got stuck on the river in the Postogola Bridge area as its height stopped it from passing under the bridge.

 ‘Morning Bird officially held 45 passengers’

In a briefing on Tuesday, BIWTA Chairman Commodore Golam Sadeq said the Morning Bird was officially travelling from Kathapatti in Munshiganj to Dhaka with 45 passengers.

He also said the investigation committees formed by the Ministry of Shipping and BIWTA are looking into the accident and action will be taken as per their recommendations.

“The investigation committees are working on who is responsible for this accident. Mayur-2 has been seized. Its route permit has been cancelled,” the BIWTA chairman said.

He added that River Police have filed a case over the capsize. “The Morning Bird launch will be kept in a safe place on the dockyard as evidence and River Police will conduct a case.”

In response to a question, Commodore Golam Sadeq said they have four rescue ships and they are kept in places where the risk of accident is higher.

Regarding allegations that the helmsman was not operating the Mayur-2, the BIWTA chairman said: “There are over a thousand launches here and we have a lot less manpower than that - It is not possible to have an inspector for every launch. It should be the owners responsibility to ensure a capable helmsman.”

He also said they try to ensure launches are in compliance with rules and regulations by conducting surprise checks and taking legal action.

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