30 missing as bus falls off ferry in Barisal

(L) Hundreds of people crowd near the pontoon of Goma ferry ghat where a bus along with 30 passengers fell off into Rangamati river in Barisal on Wednesday. A diver comes up to the shore as a part of a relentless rescue operation by the local authorities.

At least 30 people went missing when a local bus plunged into the river Rangamati while boarding a ferry on its way to Goma in Bakerganj from Kauarchar in Barisal.

Local people and survivors said 32-seat rickety bus rolled into the ferry and its driver was unable to stop. It broke through the poor safety rope and fell directly into the river that had very strong current.

Rescue workers from Barisal and Bakerganj rushed to the spot and launched a rescue operation. The strong current in the river and lack of daylight hampered the rescue operation, said Executive Engineer of Roads and Highways Department (R&HD), Md Shah Alam.

Most people who were sitting inside the bus at the time of the plunge were missing, witnesses said. When the ferry reached Goma Ghat, some of the passengers got off the vehicle and walked into the ferry but women, children and elderly people remained seated inside, survivors said.

Survivors also said that the local bus picked up many passengers on its 30-kilometre journey from Barisal.

Four of the passengers managed to swim ashore, and a child was rescued, our Barisal correspondent reported quoting Nurul Islam, officer-in-charge of Bakerganj Police Station.

Rescuers from BIWTA, Roads and Highways Department and Fire Brigade and Civil Defence have already begun search for the missing, OC said.

The bus, ‘Mayer Anchol-3’, which was going to Goma from Barisal, met the accident at 4:30pm at Goma ferry ghat.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority salvage vessel Hamza started for Goma from Barisal around 6:30pm.

“The bus slipped off while it was getting on board,” Abdul Mannan, 55, one of the passengers who managed to swim to the shore, told The Daily Star.

Among the rest four passengers, Abdul Quddus, 65, two female passengers named Kohinoor and Morsheda, 45, (full names were not available immediately) also succeeded to swim ashore.

Relatives of survivors are now eagerly waiting on the bank of Rangamati for news of their loved ones.

Bakerganj police sources said that the bus of the Mayer Achol company is a member of the local bus owners association but they would be surprised if it had any fitness certificate or any other document.

Most of the public transports in the rural areas of Bangladesh do not have any fitness certificates or documents, said police sources.

Source: The Daily Star

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