About 30 passengers went missing as a bus plunged into the Rangamati River at Goma Ferryghat in Bakerganj upazila on Wednesday afternoon.Police super AKM Ehsanullah and officer-in-charge of Bakerganj Police Station Nurul Islam said the bus, ‘Mayer Anchol-3’, with 40 passengers on board rolled into the ferry around 4pm.
However, it ran off the ferry breaking through the safety rope and fell into the river as its driver lost control over the steering due to brake failure.
Some 10 of the passengers managed to swim ashore while 30 went missing. The survivors included Morsheda, 44, Mannan, 55, Kohinur, 31, Kader, 65, Nurul Islam, 44, Rasheda, 38, Rummon, 8, Henoara, 35, Mizan, 40, and Babu Shikdar, 30.
On information, an 8-member team of the Fire Service, including three divers, rushed in and started the rescue operation. They located the sunken vehicle at a depth of 30 feet under the water at about 5:30 pm.
However, they could not rescue anyone or retrieve any body from the sunken bus.
Later, a crane of the Roads and Highways Department was brought in to lift the sunken bus. BIWTA’s salvage vessel ‘Hamza’ also started from Barisal to join the rescue operation.
Deputy Commissioner Shahidul Islam, SP Ehsanullah and other high officials of the administration were supervising the rescue operation.
Outraged by the delay in the rescue operation, locals threw brickbats at the officials and journalists, injuring at least four people.
Police, members of Armed Police Battalion, Rapid Action Battalion have been deployed in the area to fend off any trouble.
Survivor Babul Shikdar said driver Zakir was driving the overcrowded vehicle rashly after leaving Charkawa bus stand at 3:10 pm.
Diver Mozammel Huq said they failed to locate any body inside the bus. The rescue operation was being hampered due to strong current in the river and poor visibility, he added.
“We’re trying to rescue the passengers live, but the salvage of the sunken vehicle isn’t possible for us,” said Fire Service team leader Abul Bashar.
Abul Bashar Talukdar, deputy director (marine safety) of BIWTA Barisal station, said salvage vessel Hamza left the station at 6pm.
However, it would take 6-7 hours to reach the spot, said Ashraf Hossain, commander of the salvage vessel. UNB