‘Bangladeshi survivor stayed afloat for 8 hours in Mediterranean’
07:45 PM, May 12, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:30 AM, May 13, 2019

‘Bangladeshi survivor stayed afloat for 8hrs in Mediterranean’

Saw his brother dying, family says

One of the Bangladeshi survivors of the tragic boat capsize in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Tunisia had managed to stay afloat for eight hours before being rescued by a fishing boat while seeing his brother lose the battle, family said.

“My brother Masum called me and told us how he had stayed buoyant for more than 8 hours,” elder brother of the two, Masud Ahmed said. “Our youngest brother Maruf drowned.”

They were all from Kudupur village in Golapganj upazila of Sylhet.

Seven of the 37 Bangladeshi migrants, who died after a boat carrying them capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Tunisia, were from Sylhet and Moulvibazar districts, police and local administration confirmed.

Two Bangladeshi migrants-- Masum Ahmed and Ahmed Bilal—are among the survivors of the tragedy that unfolded after some 75 people who had left Zuwara on the northwestern Libyan coast late Thursday on a large boat were transferred to a smaller one that sank off Tunisia, reports AFP from Tunis.

Thirty-seven Bangladeshis have been confirmed killed so far, ASM Ashraful Islam, labour counsellor of Bangladesh embassy in Tripoli, said today.

‘VICTIM OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING’

Meanwhile, a victim’s family claimed that Ahsan Habib Shamim, one of the deceased who hailed from Habiganj, was subjected to human trafficking while the family members of another victim brought allegations against a travel agency.

Abu Sayeed Bacchu, elder brother of the deceased, said “Shamim was their youngest sibling. He (Shamim) along with Maruf and Masum left for Italy in November last year. What to say now; we became the victim of human trafficking as it was not meant to be that way”.

Siraj Miah, father of the victim Liton, claimed that Ahmed, Aziz, his son Liton and some others left Bangladesh in November last year.

“We had a contract with ‘New Yeahia Overseas’, a travel agency of Raja Mansion of Zindabazar in Sylhet city, which took Tk 8 lakh from each for sending them to Italy from Bangladesh via Libya”, he claimed, adding that the owner of the agency Enamul Haque is also from Fenchuganj and they trusted him.

He also said that they (the victims) had past five miserable months in Libya before they finally left for Italy on a boat a couple of days ago.

“This travel agent must be brought to book so that no one loses their family members”, he said.

While visiting the travel agency, our Sylhet correspondent found that the office was locked and the owner’s cell phone was found switched off despite repeated attempt to contact him.

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