DHAKA, Bangladesh – A collision between a cargo ship and a small ferry killed 27 people and left more than a dozen others swimming for a living in Bangladesh late Sunday, the latest collision in the calendar its long history of the maritime disaster on its heavily trafficked waterways.
Authorities said most of those killed were trapped inside the ferry after it was hit by an overloaded cargo ship when it crossed a river in central Bangladesh and then capsized.
Golam Sadeq, president of the Bangladesh Inland Waterway Transport, said the bodies of 21 passengers were picked up from the ferry after 11 hours of salvage operations to pull the ship out of the water. The bodies of six other passengers were recovered outside the ferry, authorities said, and 19 passengers were rescued after swimming from the ship.
Video shot from the riverbank showed the cargo ship plunging into the ferry, lifting it out of the water and knocking passengers into the water. Hundreds of people gathered to watch the rescue campaign, supported by the locals. The screams of the loved ones filled the air as they desperately tried to find out the fate of their loved one.
Mustain Billah, deputy commissioner of Naryanganj district, east of the capital Dhaka, said it had opened an investigation into the cause of the collision. He said that the police, the military and the Inland Water Transport Authority were searching for the cargo ship.
Sadeq said authorities were unable to stop the ship immediately after the crash due to stormy weather.
Hundreds of people have died in accidents in Bangladesh’s rivers in recent decades. More than 30 people drowned in June after two ferries collided in Dhaka. In 2015, a cargo ship crashed into a ferry east of the capital, killing 69 people. In 2014, an overloaded ferry capsized on the River Padma, killing more than 100 people.