A Bangladeshi ferry carrying nearly 200 people has overturned in the deep waters of the Meghna River in the country’s Munshiganj district, reports BBC. Officials have confirmed that the disaster has claimed the lives of at least nine people. However, the death toll is expected to rise as rescue operations intensify. The ferry that capsized was named MV-Miraj 4 and it was on its way towards the town of Shariatpur when disaster struck. Initial reports blame the disaster on stormy weather and possible overcrowding.
According to Saiful Hassan Badal, the deputy commissioner of Munshiganj District, rescue workers are still on their way to the site of the accident. A local police chief, Firdous Ahmed, told the AFP that the Ferry has completely submerged and all of it is under water. In fact, according to him, rescue workers were still trying to locate it. The bodies of nine people have been recovered so far, including that of a child.
According to a Chicago Tribune report, the incident happened after the ferry was caught in the midst of a sudden storm. Survivors recall that in spite of repeated requests to anchor the boat at the river side till the storm passed, the boat swain chose not to heed them and continued along. Minutes later, the ferry turned over taking along with it over 200 people. The survivors were able to swim ashore even though they faced strong currents and high waves whipped up by the storm. It took over three hours for a rescue vessel sent from the capital Dhaka to reach the site of the ferry disaster. Members of the Bangladeshi coast guard, firefighters, and divers were involved in search efforts.
Ferry disasters are common occurrences in Bangladesh, which has a large network of rivers that are used for the navigation and transportation of people. In 2012, a ferry disaster in the Meghna River claimed the lives of 112 people when it collided with an oil tanker and sank. Prior to that, a 2009 incident occurred on the Daira River, killing over 47 people. Many ferry accidents in Bangladesh have been blamed on overcrowding and poor maintenance of the ferries. It is unclear at this stage if the latest ferry to capsize, MV Miraj 4, too was poorly maintained.
The Bangladeshi ferry disaster happened just a month after another deadly ferry accident in South Korea claimed the lives of over 250 school children.
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