DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — At least 22 people died when a Bangladeshi passenger boat sank with more than 100 aboard, and the driver of a cargo vessel suspected of colliding with the boat was arrested, officials said Saturday.
The boat sank Friday evening in a large body of water in the eastern district of Brahmanbari, 82 kilometers (51 miles) east of the capital, Dhaka.
No passengers were believed missing after nearly 24 hours of search efforts, said Emon Sarker, a duty officer with the district’s fire service and civil defense, who also provided the final death toll. That’s after initial reports said around 50 passengers were missing, citing local officials and media.
“Maybe many swam to safety. There was no passenger list. It happens here. Today, nobody came to us looking for any missing people,” Sarker said by phone.
Bangladesh is a delta nation where water transport is heavily used to move people and goods. But deadly accidents are common due to unskilled operation and poor enforcement of safety rules. The country is crisscrossed by 230 rivers, and during the monsoon season, some low-lying areas fill with water and are also used by boats.
Sarker said the sunken boat was still submerged and would be brought to shore Sunday.
The cargo boat’s driver and two assistants were caught by locals in the Bijoynagar area and turned over to the authorities, said Anisur Rahman, district police superintendent.
Local police official Imranul Islam initially provided the figure of 21 dead, speaking by phone late Friday. Survivors said about 100 people were aboard. Local news reports, quoting the area’s top government administrator, Hayat-Ud-Dola, said about 50 people were missing.
A witness said two cargo vessels hit the boat, which sank quickly, Dhaka-based The Daily Star newspaper reported.
“I was grazing cattle on the bank. I heard a loud noise and saw the cargo vessels hitting the passenger trawler. I saw the trawler sinking quickly,” witness Nurul Amin told the paper.
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