Search for survivors called off as Bangladesh ferry toll rises to 28

AFP
A local police inspector said the ferry was packed with passengers after the government confirmed it would impose a seven-day coronavirus lockdown across the country.
AFP
Search for survivors called off as Bangladesh ferry toll rises to 28
AFP

Bangladesh divers carry a dead body, which was recovered from the capsized boat in Shitalakshya River on Monday. 

The search for survivors from a ferry disaster in Bangladesh was called off on Monday, with the death toll rising to 28 when rescuers pulled the vessel from the water and found bodies inside.

The one-and-a-half story ferry was lifted from the heavily polluted Shitalakshya River in the central district of Narayanganj on Monday, some 18 hours after it sank following a collision with a bigger cargo vessel on Sunday.

“We have found 23 bodies today ... Five bodies were found on Sunday night,” local official Mustain Billah said. Six children were among the dead, he added.

The vessel, named Sabit Al Hasan, sank less than an hour after it had departed Narayanganj, 20 kilometers from the capital Dhaka, officials said.

A local police inspector said the ferry was packed with passengers after the government confirmed it would impose a seven-day lockdown across the country to combat the recent rise in coronavirus cases.

Billah said the ship was carrying at least 46 people when it left. “Some 20 people swam to safety after the vessel sank,” he said.

He said search operations, which were led by fire brigade divers and other rescuers, were called off late Monday as authorities believed no one else was missing.

Hundreds of onlookers and relatives of the missing had watched from the shore, but many have since left, he said.

“I don’t think anyone is missing as most of the relatives have left the riverbanks,” Billah said, adding that authorities had ordered a probe into the accident.

Local police chief Dipak Saha said rescue efforts on Sunday had been hampered for hours by a powerful storm that hit after the accident.

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