200 Bangladesh fishermen feared drowned in storm
BARISAL, Bangladesh: More than 200 fishermen are missing feared drowned after nearly 60 Bangladeshi fishing boats sank in the Bay of Bengal during a storm, police and officials said on Saturday.
The boats capsized on Friday night off Bangladesh’s Barisal coast. “Seven bodies have been retrieved from the rough seas by boats which managed to return to the shore but more than 200 crew on board nearly 60 boast are still missing,” one police officer said.
Fishing community leaders quoted survivors as saying they had seen several bodies floating away but could not reach them due to strong winds and high waves. They feared most of the missing would be dead by now as rainstorms continued to batter the offshore areas on Saturday, hampering search.
“The Bay is still rough with the weather office issuing a medium-strong storm signal for the next 24 hours,” said a local administration official on Saturday night. “So, only a miracle would keep them alive and safe,” said the official, who asked not to be named.
Officials said fishing boats often ignore storm warnings and most do not keep a radio on board to monitor weather bulletins. The number of boats fishing in the Bay had more than doubled over the last few weeks, as this is the prime season for catching hilsha, an expensive fish that sometimes make the fishermen a fortune.
Nearly 400 people were killed after a triple-deck ferry capsized in the Meghna river, 170 km southeast of capital Dhaka, on July 8.
Authorities abandoned bids to salvage the ferry, found 120 feet under water, after 10 days due to strong currents and whirlpools at the site of the sinking. —Reuters