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Death toll in Panchagarh boat capsize hits 51 - EN-vinnabarta

Death toll in Panchagarh boat capsize hits 51

Vinnabarta Desk
  • Update Time : Tuesday, September 27, 2022
  • 120 Time View

The number of people killed by a boat capsizing in the Karatoa river under Boda upazila in Panchagarh has risen to 51, while around 25 people still remain missing, the authorities said on Monday.

The district administration said that a joint rescue operation of police and fire service, stretching up to 80 kilometres downstream amid strong currents in the river, would continue until all bodies were found.

The small boat, carrying approximately 100 passengers, mostly Hindu devotees from Marea union under Boda upazila, sank in the river Karatoa on Sunday afternoon, minutes after it sailed from the Awaliar Ghat area in the district.

The boat was travelling to Bordeshwari temple in Boroshashi union in the same upazila on the occasion of Malalaya.

Panchagarh additional deputy commissioner Dipankar Roy told New Age that 26 bodies were found on Monday in Debiganj, Dinajpur Sadar, Birganj, and Khanshama areas in the Karatoa river downstream,

On Sunday, 16 bodies were found in the river, while nine people died in hospital after being rescued by the local people.

Dipankar, also in charge of a control room set up by the Panchagarh district administration, said that they were assuming that between 20 and 25 people remained missing until 8:00pm.

He said that relatives of some missing people duplicated a few names, leaving the exact number of missing people unclear.

Dipankar said that firefighters and divers from neighbouring districts also joined the rescue operations.

‘We are searching for bodies up to 80 kilometres downstream as the current is very strong in the river. Today, the body of a child was found around 60km from the accident spot,’ he said.

Relatives of the missing passengers were seen waiting in the control room and beside the river with teary eyes and heavy hearts to get the bodies.

Whenever a body was recovered, they ran to identify it.

Out of the 26 bodies recovered on Monday, 25 are identified as Rupali (child) from Boda, Surjya Kanta (child) from Boda, Dipshikha Rani, 10, from Thakurgaon, Dip Babu, 10, from Debiganj, Shuchitra, 22, from Boda, Harekeshor Barman, 30, from Debiganj, Pradip Roy, 30, from Boda, Paruli Rani, 32, from Boda, Jagadish, 35, from Boda, Rupali Rani Roy, 38, from Debiganj, and Pratima Rani Roy, 39, from Debiganj, Pushpa Rani, 45, from KK Bari Lokkhirhat, Jharna Rani, 45, from Debiganj, Aduri, 50, from Boda, Beje Bala, 50, from Boda, Kabita Rani, 50, from Boda, Nikhil Chandra Barman, 60, from Debiganj, Rajmohon Adhikary, 65, from Boda, Shumitra Rani from Marea, Konika Rani from Marea Bottala, Genda Rani from Boda, Jotinmoy from Boda, Subrata from Boda, Joyti Rani from Panchagarh sadar, and Rupali Begum.

Of the total victims, authorities said 26 were women, 14 were children, and 11 were men. Two of the deceased were identified as Muslims until now.

Boda fire service and civil defence station leader Md Shahjahan Ali said that they would continue their operation till all the missing people were found.

The officer-in-charge of the Boda police station, Sujoy Kumar Roy, said that an unnatural death case was filed on Sunday in connection with the accident.

The railways minister, Nurul Islam Sujan, on Monday, visited the spot when a section of people became agitated.

Abul Kalam, a local, said that every year on different regional occasions, Hindu devotees travel to the Bordeshwari temple in Boroshashi union by crossing the river from Awliar Ghat.

‘But there is no bridge in this area,’ he said, adding that there was also no bridge to connect the Tepukuria Bagdokra ghat under Benghadi union and Boalmari under Boda thana.

Some local people alleged that during the accident, there were members of law enforcement agencies but still, the boat was allowed to sail overloaded.

In a statement, volunteer organisation Save the Road demanded a proper investigation and Tk 10 lakh compensation for each family of the victims.

They also demanded strict action against boats with illegal engines and overloading, the introduction of more waterways across the country, and freeing rivers from grabbers.

According to a study by the Accident Research Institute under the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, between 2018 and 2021, 462 people died, 315 were injured, and 677 went missing in 326 waterway accidents,