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Sunken launch not traced yet; 127 still missing

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A Correspondent
Munshiganj: Passenger launch Pinka-6, the launch that sank in the Padma River near Mawa Ghat in Lauhajang upazila on Monday with over 250 passengers on board, could not be salvaged even after 32 hours of the accident due to strong currents in the mighty river.
Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan, while visiting the spot today, said it will be difficult for the rescuers to salvage the sunken launch if it got trapped in riverbed.
Two rescue vessels -- ‘Rustam’ and ‘Nirbhik’ -- reached the spot but failed to locate the spot and salvage the launch till this evening due to strong currents in the turbulent river.
The minister said another salvage ship,‘Jarip-10’, set out from Chittagong for the spot and it will reach there by midnight.
Deputy Commissioner Md Saiful Hasan said 100 passengers were rescued alive while over 127 others remained missing since the launch capsized.
Talking to the reporters, the Minister said necessary action will be taken against the authorities of Pinak-6 launch.
The accident took place when the overloaded launch from Kawrakandi capsized in the river 800 yards off Mawa Ghat (jetty) around 11:15 am Monday due to strong currents while it was heading towards the jetty.
Divers from Fire Brigade and Civil Defence, Bangladesh Navy and Coast Guard have been conducting the rescue drive.
However, the bodies of two women were recovered from the river on Monday.
The deceased were identified as Hashi Begum, 50, wife of Alam Sheikh of Shibchar upazila of Madaripur district and Nusrat Jahan Hira, 20, a 2nd year student of Shikdar Medical College and daughter of Nurul Haque of Kaderpur village in Shibchar upazila.
BIWTA sources said 13 divers of Navy, fire brigade and BIWTA were working relentlessly to salvage the launch.
Besides, a high tech machine, ‘Side-scan Sonar’, recently imported from Australia is being used in searching the launch.
The Ministry of Shipping formed a seven-member probe committee while Mercantile Marine Department a four-member committee to probe the incident.
Meanwhile, the relatives of the missing people blocked the Dhaka-Mawa Highway near Mawa Rest House in Lauhajang upazila on Tuesday morning, demanding quick recovery of the sunken vessel, disrupting traffic movement on the road for nearly an hour.