BARISAL, Feb 27 (UNB): One person drowned and 11 others were missing when a trawler ferrying about 80 followers of Charmonai Pir capsized in the Kirtonkhola River Monday.
Witnesses and official sources said the trawler went down a few minutes after departure from the Charmonai Huzur Bari Ghat at about 9:20am after the 'Akheri Munajat' on the concluding day of a four-day Mahfil of Charmonai.
The dead was identified as Nur Muhammad Sardar (55) of Domsi village under Shariatpur district.
"On hearing hue and cry, local people rushed in for the rescue of the passengers," says a witness of the ferry accident.
As the trawler sank near the riverbank, most of the passengers managed to swim ashore.
The trawler could not be salvaged due to strong current in the river.
The divers of Barisal Fire Service Station reached the spot at 12:30pm and returned from there at 2:00pm without any success in salvage and rescue operation.
Saheb Ali, head of the fire service divers' team, said: "Due to heavy current and technical problem and limitations they have returned from the spot."
A rescue team of BIWTA with a salvage vessel reached the spot at about 1:30pm, and with the help of local people, tried to locate the sunken vessel.
Senior Deputy Director of BIWTA Shahjal Huq, in charge of salvage and rescue operation, said the position of the trawler was marked 50 feet under water. And "due to strong current in the river, immediate recovery of the capsized vessel may not be possible and salvage vessel Hamza may be called for the job".
Musaddek Billah, a son of the Charmonai Pir, and Shahidul Islam Kabir, media cell chief of Charmonair Mahfil, alleged that local administration "never gave any importance to this huge gathering of Muslim devotees numbering more than two million".