21 dead, dozens missing after boat sinks in Bangladesh

At least 21 people were killed and dozens remain missing as a boat packed with passengers and a sand-laden cargo ship collided in a lake in eastern Bangladesh.

The boat was reportedly carrying some 60 passengers when the incident occurred on Friday on a lake in the town of Bijoynagar, local official Hayat-ud-Doula Khan said.

The cargo ship’s steel tip and the boat collided, causing the passenger vessel to capsize, he said.

“We have recovered 21 bodies including nine women and six children so far,” he told AFP news agency, adding the death toll will likely rise.

It is unclear how many people were on board at the time of the collision, and exactly how many remain missing. According to police official Imranul Islam, survivors said about 100 people were on board.

Local fire service spokesman Taufiqul Islam said divers were searching the scene for bodies, and reinforcements had been called in from neighbouring towns. Locals also joined the rescue efforts.

Police said at least seven people were taken to a local hospital after they were rescued from the sunken boat.

The area is 82km (51 miles) east of the capital, Dhaka. Local authorities have formed a committee to investigate the accident.

It was the latest in a string of similar incidents in the South Asian country. In April and May, 54 were killed in two separate boat capsizing accidents.

Experts blame poor maintenance, lax safety standards at shipyards and overcrowding for many of the deadly incidents.