The death toll has risen to 26 when a ferry sank after collision with a bigger vessel in Bangladesh on Sunday.

Rescuers pulled the ferry on Monday from heavily polluted Shitalakshya River in the central district of Narayanganj on Monday and found 21 bodies inside, officials said.

“We have found 21 bodies today after the ship was pulled out of the water,” local official Mustain Billah said.

The ferry, Sabit Al Hasan, sank after it collided with a bigger cargo vessel on Sunday after half an hour into its journey from Narayanganj, 20 kilometres from Dhaka.

A police inspector said the ferry was packed beyond its capacity after the government confirmed it would impose a seven-day lockdown across the country to combat the recent rise in coronavirus cases.

Billah said the ship was carrying at least 46 people when it left.

“Some 20 people swam to safety after the vessel sank,” he said, adding several people could still be missing. “We have ordered a probe into the accident,” he said.

Local police chief Dipak Saha said rescue efforts were hampered for hours by a powerful storm that hit after the accident.

Under the lockdown, all domestic travel services, including buses, ferries, trains and flights, have been suspended from Monday. Shops and malls will remain shut for a week with a night curfew in effect.

Public and private sector businesses were told to only have a skeleton crew in their offices.

Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, a delta nation crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers.

Millions of people are heavily reliant on ferries for transport, particularly in the country’s southern coastal region, but the vessels have a poor safety record.


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