Rescue workers recovered the bodies of 32 people after a launch carrying over 100 passengers capsized in Buriganga river at Dhaka's Shyambazar this morning, fire service sources said.
Fazikul Islam, sub-inspector of Dakkhin Keraniganj Police Station, said they found 32 dead bodies including 22 males, seven female and three children.
Family members identified 31 of them and took the bodies away. One body remained unclaimed at the morgue till the filing of this report.
Morning Bird, which was coming to Dhaka from Munshiganj, capsized in the river after it was hit by another launch Moyur-2 near Sadarghat launch terminal around 9:30am, said Shahadat Hossain, a duty officer of the fire service headquarters.
The launch was reportedly carrying over 100 passengers, according to local police.
On information, divers from Sadarghat fire station rushed to the spot and started rescue operation, fire service sources said.
Coastguards and river police also joined the rescue operations.
A rescue vessel of BIWTA from Narayanganj reached the spot and was conducting salvage operation.
Masud Hossain, a survivor, said he was travelling from Munshiganj in a cabin with his uncle while his other uncle was on the lower deck of the launch.
"As I realised something bad has happened, I called my uncle immediately to come out. By this time, the launched capsized. It took no more than five minutes to sink," he said.
"I thought I'm going to die today… I could somehow manage to open the window of the cabin and come out. Situation didn't even allow me to look for my uncle sitting next to me," he lamented.
Talking to The Daily Star in the afternoon, he said rescuers have already recovered the body of his uncle Afzar Sheikh but his other uncle Bachchu Sheikh was still missing.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has seized Moyur-2 but its master and other staffers managed to flee the scene, BIWTA Joint Director Alamgir Kabir told The Daily Star.
BIWTA has formed a four-member committee to investigate the launch capsize and asked to submit report as soon as possible, said its Chairman Commodore Golam Sadeq.
State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said that today's incident seemed to be carried out in a planned way.
"Today's incident is totally different from other incidents. I have seen the CCTV footage and after watching it, it appears to me that the incident was carried out intentionally. It seemed to be murder," he told reporters after visiting the spot around 3:30pm.
Khalid Mahmud said his ministry has formed a seven-member committee led by a joint secretary and the committee was asked to submit a report within a week.
"We will take necessary legal action following the investigation," he said.
The minister said they will provide Tk 10,000 to each family for burial and Tk 1.5 lakh as compensation.