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19 drown as boat collides with ship in Bangladesh

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DHAKA: At least 19 people were killed and dozens remain missing as a boat packed with passengers and a sand-laden cargo ship collided on Friday in a lake in eastern Bangladesh, officials said.

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

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

“We have recovered 19 bodies including nine women and two children so far,” he told AFP, adding that the toll would likely rise.

Local fire service spokesman Taufiqul Islam said divers were searching the scene of the accident for more bodies, and that reinforcements had been called in from neighbouring towns.

Police said at least seven people were taken to a local hospital after they were rescued from the sunken boat.

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

In April and May, 54 were killed in two separate boat capsizing accidents.

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

Vessels transporting sand sit low in the water and can be hard 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.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2021

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