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5 killed in boat capsize in Bangladesh

Dhaka:  Five persons, including a child, were killed and at least 10 others missing in an overnight boat capsize in central Bangladesh when a sand-laden cargo vessel collided with the passenger boat carrying over 70 people.

Rescuers retrieved five bodies from Meghna river, of which two were pulled out of the water by fishermen in the area who were using their fishing nets, while search was on for at least 10 others, officials said today.

The Dhaka-bound vessel rammed into the boat near Bhasanchar in Munshiganj’s Gozaria upazila, police said.

Initial reports said the boat capsized as it was hit by the vessel last night when the river was turbulent due to stormy weather in the region.

“Searches are underway as 10 to 12 people are still feared missing,” a police official at the scene told a TV channel as fire service divers and locals continued to look for bodies in the vicinity.

Survivors said the boat was carrying some 70 passengers to an annual Muslim spiritual festival called ‘Lengtar Mela’ and most of them managed to swim ashore or were rescued by nearby boats.

Witnesses said the bodies retrieved so far included that of a four-year-old girl. She was accompanying her father, who survived to bear the agonies.

“I lost the grip on her as the boat was hit… I survived but my daughter died,” said the wailing mid-aged father as the girl’s body was retrieved.

Another youth, in his mid-twenties, was found flattened between the two vessels after the incident, The Daily Star reported.

Both the vessels were spotted around half a kilometre from the scene of the accident near the riverbank.

Police said they seized the sand-laden vessel but its operator fled the scene.

Ferry disasters are common in Bangladesh due to poor safety standards.

On February 13, at least five persons, including a minor, were killed when an overloaded ferry carrying 200 passengers, mostly devotees, capsized in the Paira river.

Last August, another ferry sank in a river in Bangladesh, killing about 130 people.

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