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Death toll rises to 49 in Bangladesh boat capsize

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Dhaka, Sep 26 (PTI) Bangladeshi authorities were racing against time on Monday to find any survivors of the boat accident involving Hindu devotees, even as the death toll in the incident rose to 49, mostly children and women.

The devotees were heading towards the Bodeshwari Temple on the occasion of Mahalaya, the auspicious start of the Durga Puja festival, when the over-crowded boat capsized in the Korotoa River in the country’s northwestern Panchagarh district.

Panchagarh Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) Dipankar Roy, who is also leading the investigation committee formed by the district administration, said that 43 bodies were recovered by 5 pm and 41 people are still missing, the Bdnews24.com reported.

Some bodies were found in a river in Dinajpur. The bodies had reportedly washed away due to strong current, an official said.

Later, six more bodies were recovered from the Karotoa River, Dhaka Tribune newspaper reported, adding that the total number of dead people now stands at 49.

Among them, 13 are children, 24 are women and 12 are men, it added.

Roy said that the recovered bodies were handed over to families.

Media reports quoting relatives said 58 passengers were missing while officials earlier said the boat was believed to be carrying as many as 80 passengers.

Eyewitnesses, however, claim that there were more than 150 passengers on the boat. Some people swim back to the river bank.

“The preliminary investigation shows that the boat was overcrowded,” Roy was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

However, he also noted that there may be other reasons behind why the boat sank, but that will be revealed after the committee finishes its investigation, the paper said.

“The boatman had asked some people to disembark to ease the weight-load. But no one listened,” said Solaiman Ali, the administrative chief of the sub-district.

Roy said fire service in Panchagargh is leading the search efforts.

The Durga Puja is the biggest Hindu festival in Bangladesh and in eastern India.

Deltaic Bangladesh is crisscrossed by several hundred rivers while hundreds of people die each year in boat and ferry accidents in Bangladesh, largely due to overcrowding.

Earlier in May, 26 people died after an overcrowded speedboat collided with a sand-laden bulk carrier and sank on the Padma River. PTI AR FZH ZH AKJ ZH ZH

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

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