Two men who jumped off a sinking ferry narrate the moments of horror

Amal Bhattacharya, a passenger from the southwestern district of Jashore, boarded a ferry with his motorcycle to cross the Padma river on Wednesday morning. But the vessel, named Shah Amanat, went down in the river with several vehicles on board, before it could make it to the shore.

As the ferry came close to the Paturia jetty, the staff began to scream that water was pouring in.

"I saw the ferry gradually tilting to its right. I was hoping that it would dock. But the moment it stopped, it tilted furthermore,” Amal said.

Two vehicles or so had got off the vessel after it docked. A motorcycle in front of Amal slid under a truck. “The owner somehow managed to reach the shore. I let my motorcycle go and it disappeared into the river," he said.

Amal took off his shoes and mounted a covered van on the ferry as it was sinking. Then he began to swim. “I struggled to breathe as I already swallowed water. I was drowning. I couldn't swim anymore.”

Then an unnamed man came to Amal’s rescue with a rope, trying to help him climb out of water.

That was not enough to support him. He saw a metal chain and tried to make his way toward the shore. As he slowly advanced, five to seven people dragged him onto the shore. “I don't know what happened after that.”

Amal was one of the two survivors bdnews24.com interviewed to piece together details of what led to the disaster and how it unfolded.

The survivors narrated the terrifying moments of the ferry going down in the Padma River in Manikganj, but they could not shed light on why it capsized just close to the jetty. The vessel arrived at the Paturia No. 5 terminal from Rajbari's Daulatdia.

But it was clear that water poured into the ferry, taking it deeper into the river and washing away the vehicles.  And that was confirmed by Feroz Kabir, chief of Shibalaya Police Station. Water poured in due to leaks in the bottom of the ferry and eventually it turned over, he said.

The authorities have initially learnt that the vessel was loaded with 17 goods trucks.

The ferry started tilting when two trucks and passengers disembarked. Half of the vessel submerged in the river near the terminal.

Rescue vessel Hamza has arrived at the scene to pull the ferry. Divers started a frantic search for anyone stuck inside the vessel. No death was reported immediately.

The ferry did not have a lot of passengers in it, but a few drivers, helpers and hawkers, Amal said.

Sujon Hossain, 40, a private company employee, was going to Dhaka from Doulatdia. He had his motorcycle with him onboard.

"Few pick-up trucks got off when the ferry docked, but my motorcycle sank in the river. I jumped into the river and swam to the shore," Sujon said.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation and the Fire Service did not provide any official statement over the accident. Authorities will soon form a panel to investigate the accident, said Manikganj Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Abdul Latif.