At least 21 killed in Bangladesh boat accident

Passenger boat capsizes after colliding with a ship carrying sand

At least 21 people were killed and dozens remain missing after a boat packed with passengers and a sand-laden cargo ship collided in a lake in eastern Bangladesh.

The boat was reportedly carrying about 60 passengers when the incident occurred on a lake in the town of Bijoynagar on Friday evening, local government administrator Hayat-ud-Doula Khan said.

The cargo ship's steel bow and the boat collided, causing the passenger vessel to capsize, he said.

"We have recovered 21 bodies including nine women and six children so far," he told AFP.

The toll was likely to increase, he said.

Fire service spokesman Taufiqul Islam said divers were searching for more bodies and that reinforcements had been called in from neighbouring towns. Local residents also joined the rescue efforts.

Police said at least seven people were taken to hospital after they were rescued.

Survivor Akhi Akter said she was travelling with her son, mother-in-law and brother-in-law.

"When the accident occurred, I managed to swim back to the bank. But the rest of my relatives are still missing," she said.

Local authorities have formed a committee to investigate the accident.

The maritime accident is the latest in a string of similar incidents in the south Asian country.

In April and May, 54 people were killed in two separate incidents when boats capsized.

Experts blame poor maintenance, lax safety standards at shipyards and overcrowding for many of the accidents.

Vessels carrying sand sit low in the water and can be difficult to see in choppy conditions, particularly in poor lighting.

In June last year, a ferry sank in Dhaka after it was hit from behind by another ferry, killing at least 32 people.

In February 2015, at least 78 people died when an overcrowded ship collided with a cargo boat.

Updated: August 28th 2021, 3:35 PM