Bangladesh: At Least 50 Killed in Boat Capsize

50 bodies have been recovered so far after an overcrowded ferry carrying Hindu pilgrims capsized in the Karotoa River in northern Bangladesh on Sunday. The victims include 25 women and 13 children.

Bangladesh: At Least 50 Killed in Boat Capsize
Image credit: Firoz Al Sabah/AFP [via Al Jazeera]

Facts

  • 50 bodies have been recovered so far after an overcrowded ferry carrying Hindu pilgrims capsized in the Karotoa River in northern Bangladesh on Sunday. The victims include 25 women and 13 children.
  • Police are continuing to search for bodies, with survivors saying that more than 70 people had been on the boat. The accident is the worst waterways disaster to hit the country in more than a year.
  • Sunday marked the first day of Durga Puja, the most important Hindu festival in Bangladesh and eastern India. The pilgrims were crossing the river to the centuries-old Bodeshwari Temple, which attracts thousands of Hindus each year.
  • News outlets broadcast cell phone footage of the overcrowded ferry - packed mostly with women and children - suddenly flipping over, throwing the passengers into the river. The weather was calm at the time.
  • District police stated there had previously been heavy rains and pilgrims packed the boat to avoid bad weather. The ferry was reportedly carrying around three times its capacity when it capsized.
  • Hundreds of people die each year in ferry accidents in Bangladesh. Sunday's incident was the latest in a string of similar tragedies often blamed on poor maintenance and overcrowding.

Sources: Reuters, Al Jazeera, Hindu, Straits Times, and DW.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by DW. The Bangladeshi government must better address these tragedies. At least 5,000 people - mostly the poor - have died in ferry accidents in Bangladesh in the last 13 years, 35% of which are attributed to overcrowding. The international community must bring pressure on this safety issue, as it has in the past with Bangladesh's garment factory workers.
  • Narrative B, as provided by BMC Public Health. These accidents are tragic, and they will require efforts beyond the Bangladeshi government alone. Addressing economic stress, bolstering rescue services and healthcare, and building capacity for health and safety in the private sector are crucial. Private ferry owners carry a lot of political weight in Bangladesh. This is a complex issue requiring public-private collaboration.