The Bangladesh Navy yesterday morning traced the capsized trawler, FV Bandhan, after about 31 hours of the incident while as many as 26 members of the trawler crew still remain missing.
Family members of the missing members were found waiting at the AK Khan Ghat on the bank of Karnaphuli to get information about their near and dear ones, at least the dead bodies. They were seen holding ID cards and photographs of their missing relatives.
Navy and ISPR officials told the Dhaka Tribune that they had traced the trawler using side-scan sonar machine about 52km northwest off the coast of the Saint Martin’s Island around 10:45am.
Divers of Navy joined the rescue operation while BNS Shaikat, a rescue vessel, equipped with modern rescue gear, went to the spot to salvage the sunken vessel, said Navy officials.
Salvage operation was called off around 11pm due to bad weather.
Besides this, navy ships BNS Samudro Joy, BNS Adamya, BNS Atondra, a maritime patrol aircraft and a helicopter are continuing their efforts since the incident took place around 3:15am on Friday, the Navy media cell in Chittagong said. Bangladesh Coast Guard rescue vessel CGS Tanvir was assisting the Navy team.
FV Bandhan, owned by Bengal Fisheries Limited – a joint venture of AK Khan Group and Japan’s Maruha Nichiro Corporation, turned turtle about 30 nautical miles northwest off the Saint Martin’s Island with 29 crewmen on board.
It was hit by Singapore-bound merchant vessel Bashundhara 8, leaving a one dead and 26 missing. Two crewmen were found alive.
The deceased is Nasir Uddin, 40, while the rescued are Junior Officer Sazib Hossain, 25, and crew Lovelu, 30. The body of Nasir was taken to Chittagong Medical College morgue. The two others were taken to private clinics for treatment at the company’s cost.
Sazib said: “My vessel was catching shrimps in the fishing zone in the Bay. I was on duty at the time of the incident when most of the crew members were asleep. Suddenly I noticed another vessel heading towards mine. Joined by other fishermen on the trawler I signalled the merchant vessel to change course, but got no response.”
The clash left him unconscious. “I discovered myself in another trawler of our company, FV Joauthaudyam, by which we reached the city,” he said.
Blaming negligence of Bashundhara 8 for the incident, Lovelu said the other crew mmbers of the vessel could have been rescued, if the merchant vessel had not fled.
He said: “I was awake when the incident took place. I just ended talking to my family over the phone around 3am on Friday. I saw a bright light of another vessel...Nasir and I jumped into the sea while the trawler capsized completely within 10-20 minutes with all the other members asleep.
“Nasir was sleeping when I called him; so he could not swim properly. I helped him but he died within 30 minutes of swimming. But I did not leave him. I, holding Nasir’s head, tried to remain afloat holding a bamboo. We were picked up by a wooden boat Shatabdi around 5am. Later, we were handed over to FV Joauthaudyam.”
FV Bandhan, one of four fishing vessels of the company, left the port on November 19. FV Joauthaudyam was few miles away from the spot.