The incident happened around 9:30am on Monday, Fire Service headquarters control room In-charge Enayetur Rahman confirmed to media.
Meanwhile, media reports, citing the CCTV footage for the horrifying collision, have said that the incident took place at 9:13am.
Lima Khanam, duty officer of fire service headquarters control room, said 32 bodies were retrieved from the sunken launch till this evening.
Twenty-nine of deceased were identified as Sumon Talukdar, 32, Islampur branch Jamuna bank official, Manir Hossain, 50, Beauty Begum, 38, Abu Taher, 50, Shahadat, 35, Moyna, 38, Moyna’s son Sajid, 12 and daughter Mukta, 14, Abu Syed, 45, Marufa, 25, Taha, 2, Sattyaranjan, 55, Shipon, 25, Golam Hossain Bhuiya, 35, Shiplu, 22, Sumona Begum, 35, Sufia Begum, 60, Golap Hossain, 50, Maniruzzaman, 45, Afzal Hossain, 44, Abu Taher, 45, Subarna Akter, 35 and Shahadat Hossain, 40, Hafeza Khatun, 38, Sadul, 34, Amir Hossain, 55, Mahim, 17, Didar, 45 and Hossain while the identities of the others could not be known immediately.
The bodies were sent to Mitford Hospital.
Kotwali police station Officer-in-Charge Mizanur Rahman said 24 bodies have reached the morgue so far. The bodies which have been identified, or will be identified, will be handed over to their families.
Among the deceased, one has been identified as Sumon Talukder, employee of Jamuna Bank’s Islampur branch, by his elder brother Sharif Talukder. Sumon came from Munshiganj’s Mirkadim area to join his office.
Meanwhile, many people have gathered in the Shadarghat area in search of their beloved.
Rojina Akhter, duty officer of the fire service headquarters, said ML Morning Bird was hit by another launch, Moyour-2, which was bigger than its size. The launch soon went under water.
Sadarghat Police Officer-in-Charge Rejaul Karim Vhuiyan said Morning Bird was coming from Kathpotti area of Munshiganj with around 50 to 60 passengers, when the other launch hit it.
File photo of launch ML Morning Bird, which capsized on Buriganga River Monday morning Courtesy: Launch Spotters Bangladesh
The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), fire service, river police, coast guard and Bangladesh Navy’s diving team are carrying out the rescue operation, he added.
According to the survivors, around 70 to 80 people got on the launch. However, about 50 people were on board when the launch sank. Many of them managed to swim to the shore, he added.
Locals and eyewitnesses said the bigger launch hit the smaller one from the back. After the blow, ML Morning Bird took a turn and started drowning from the backside.
They also said that accidents are common in ghats like this as launch and boats are docked here in a haphazard manner.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina deeply mourned the deaths and extended her condolences to the victims’ families, said a statement from the press wing of her office. The statement said she was closely monitoring the developments of the rescue and salvage attempts.
Two probe committees formed
The Ministry of Shipping and BIWTA have separately formed two investigation committees over the launch capsize incident in Buriganga River.
Commodore Golam Sadeq, chairman of the BIWTA, confirmed about the probe committee to media.
He said: “The four-member BIWTA committee, headed by Joint Director Joynul Abedin, will submit the report within 72 hours.”
“Thirty bodies have been recovered and 20 people swam up to shore so far,” he added.
The BIWTA chairman also said: “As per the design, the capacity of the launch is to carry 45 passengers but it seems to have carried few more passengers.
“However, the launch was capsized due to a clash with another launch.”
“As most of the bodies have been recovered, we are now trying to pull up the drowned launch. Then we will have more information on the cause of the accident,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Shipping Ministry has formed a seven-member inquiry committee with Joint Secretary (Development) of the Ministry of Shipping Md Rafiqul Islam Khan as the convener and Director (Shipping) of BIWTA Md Rafiqul Islam as the member secretary.
The ministry issued an office order in this regard on Monday, said a press release.
The committee will submit a report to the Ministry of Shipping within the next seven days.
The committee will make specific recommendations by revealing the cause of the accident, identifying the person or organization responsible for the accident and mention the steps needed to be taken to prevent the accident.