Five survivors hospitalized; authorities launch investigation
At least 26 people were killed on Monday morning when a speedboat packed with passengers collided with a sand-laden vessel on the Padma River.
The speedboat carrying over 30 people from Mawa rammed into the vessel around 7am on Monday as it neared the Kanthalbari Ferry Terminal under Madaripur’s Shibchar Upazila, according to police.
“So far, 26 bodies have been recovered and some could still be missing,” said Banglabazar Ferry Ghat Traffic Police Inspector Ashikur Rahman.
Five people were rescued alive and taken to nearby Shibchar Upazila Health Complex.
The speedboat driver is among the injured, said Shibchar police OC Meraj Hossain. “He has sustained critical wounds to the head and was sent to Faridpur Medical College Hospital for better treatment.”
Water vessels transporting sand sit low in the water and can be hard to see in choppy conditions.
The search and rescue operation continued as of 3pm for possible missing passengers as naval police were still unable to determine the total number of people on board the speedboat.
The district administration has opened an inquiry into the fatal accident.
“A six-strong panel led by Madaripur Local Government Division Deputy Director Azharul Islam will investigate the matter,” Madaripur Deputy Commissioner Rahima Khatun said.
She added that families of the dead victims would be given Tk20,000 each as compensation from the district administration.
Speedboats have become a popular mode of transportation on the river as the Padma Bridge construction work has slowed ferry transport.
Moreover, a suspension of ferry and launch services due to the curb on public transport for the pandemic also prompts many to take the journey on speedboats, which take only 15 minutes. It takes up to two hours on ferries and launches to make the crossing.
Last month, more than 30 people died when a packed ferry with around 50 passengers from Narayanganj collided with a large cargo vessel.
In June last year, a ferry sank in Dhaka after it was hit from behind by another ferry, killing at least 32 people.