The death toll in the boat capsize incident in the Korotoa River in Panchagarh's Boda has climbed to 50 as the authorities recovered the bodies of 25 more people on Monday.
The boat, which was carrying people to a temple for the Mahalaya festival ahead of Durga Puja, capsized in the river on Sunday. As many as 25 bodies, including those of eight children and 12 women, were found by rescuers after the incident on that day.
Witnesses reported that about 150 people were on the boat at the time of the accident. Some managed to swim to shore, but many others went missing, reports bdnews24.com.
Locals rushed to the aid of the victims, taking boats out to search for them. Police and fire service personnel joined in afterwards.
The rescue efforts resumed on Monday, with diving teams from Rajshahi, Rangpur and Kurigram also taking part in the operation, according to Sheikh Mahbub Islam, a Panchargarh fire service official.
Locals reported seeing five bodies floating on the Atrai River in Korotoa and nearby Dinajpur in the morning, he said. The authorities subsequently went to the spots and retrieved the bodies.
The identities of the dead could not be determined immediately.
At least 34 people are still missing, the fire service said, citing a list given by the families.
Families are lining the banks of the river in the area, waiting for the bodies of their loved ones to be retrieved from the water. Their cries filled the air. Some are incensed that some of the bodies have yet to be found though 24 hours have passed since the incident.
“We believe that many of the bodies may have been carried by the current into nearby rivers and tributaries,” said Sujoy Kumar Ray, chief of Boda Police Station.
“The police and the fire service are conducting their rescue operations with that in mind. Boda Upazila is right next to Debiganj Upazila and Dinajpur’s Khanshama Upazila is right next to that. Four bodies have been found there,” he said.
“The police are doing all they can to recover the bodies and reunite them with their families,” he said.
The Korotoa River, which flows down from the foothills of the Himalayas, is not particularly deep, nor is the current notably strong. However, two consecutive days of rain and downstream flow have swelled the river, making things difficult for rescue workers.
Police and fire service personnel say they believe the death toll was exacerbated by the overloading of the boat and the boat sinking in the middle of the river.