DHAKA Aug 6 Authorities in Bangladesh
investigating the sinking of a ferry with nearly 250 people on
board have lodged murder charges against the owner and five
others, including the captain, taking an unprecedented step in a
country where such disasters are all too common.
The ferry, the MV Pinak-6, went down on Monday in a river
swelled by monsoon rains about 30 km (18 miles) southwest of the
capital, Dhaka, on Monday.
By early Wednesday, rescuers battling strong currents and
choppy waves on the Padma river had given up hope of finding
alive many of the 133 people still missing, officials in
Munshiganj district said.
There were 110 survivors, and seven bodies had been found.
Police were seeking the captain, who was among the
survivors, the owner and four others to answer the case brought
They are accused of murder by the inspector of the state-run
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA). The agency
has accused them of overloading passengers, plying ferry with an
expired license, and disregarding instructions not to sail by
the river authority due to bad weather conditions.
"Police are trying to arrest them, but they all went into
hiding," said Mohammad Saiful Hasan Badal, deputy commissioner
of the Munshiganj district, where the ferry went down.
"If charges are proved then they might get capital
punishment, since the case has been filed as a murder case."
Low-lying Bangladesh, with extensive inland waterways and
slack safety standards, has an appalling record of ferry
accidents, with casualties sometimes running into the hundreds.
This is the first time in Bangladesh that a murder case has
been filed against any ferry owner or crew for violating safety
Committees of inquiry have been established after past
sinkings, and they have made recommendations for changes in
regulations, but overcrowding remains a common factor in such
The ill-fated Pinak had a capacity to carry 85 passengers,
according to the inland transport authority.
(Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)