Dhaka: A boat carrying Hindu devotees to centuries-old Bodeshwari Temple capsized in the Korota river in northwestern Bangladesh on Sunday, killing at least 24 people, including women and children, while over a dozen remained missing, officials said.
The incident happened in Bangladesh’s Panchagarh district when the devotees were travelling in the boat to the Bodeshwari Temple on the occasion of Mahalaya, the auspicious start of the Durga Puja festival.
“Around 24 people have died in the boat capsizing incident. Of the dead eight are minor children and 12 are women . . . some of them were declared dead after they were brought to a local hospital,” Solaiman Ali, administrative chief of Panchagargh’s Boda sub-district, told newsmen.
He said searches by firefighters and local divers were underway for the missing ones, adding the number of passengers was assumed to be between 70 and 80.
Ali said the engine-run boat was carrying Hindu devotees to a centuries-old Bodeshwari Temple coinciding with a festival.
Panchagargh’s administrative chief or deputy commissioner Zahurul Haque said the boat was apparently carrying passengers beyond its capacity.
Thousands of Hindus in Muslim-majority Bangladesh visit the Bodeshwari Temple every year during the Durga Puja, which began in Bangladesh on Sunday.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued statements condoling the Sunday’s incident while local officials were asked to take steps for survivors treatment and compensation for the dead.
The Durga Puja is the biggest Hindu festival in Bangladesh and in eastern India or West Bengal.
Deltaic Bangladesh is crisscrossed by several hundred rivers while hundreds of people die each year in boat and ferry accidents in Bangladesh, largely due to overcrowding.
Twenty-six people died in May after an overcrowded speedboat collided with a sand-laden bulk carrier and sank on the Padma River.