At least five people have died in a crush of passengers on ferries on the Padma River during a desperate Eid journey amid a coronavirus lockdown.
The deaths were reported in separate incidents on two ferries on the Shimulia-Banglabazar route within a space of two hours on Wednesday, said Md Asaduzzaman, UNO of Madaripur’s Shibchar Upazila.
One of the victims has been identified as Anchur Madbar, 15, a resident of Shariatpur’s Naria Upazila. He was travelling to his village home with family members to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr.
The teenaged boy died on the overcrowded ferry after he fell sick apparently from a heatstroke.
The four other victims — two men and two women — could not be identified immediately.
Some other people were also injured in the incidents.
The people, hailing from the southern districts of Bangladesh, have been crossing the Padma River on the ferries over the last few days as the government has banned long-haul buses and passenger vessels to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
Thousands of travellers, unfazed by the fear of infection, thronged the ferries to reach Banglabazar terminal from Shimulia pier.
One of the ferries, styled Shah Poran, left Shimulia terminal carrying nearly 3,000 travellers around 11am. As the crowd scrambled to get off after the ferry had reached Banglabazar pier, Anchur died in a crowd crush, Shibchar Police OC Miraz Hossian said.
Security forces deployed in the ferry terminal are also facing a hard time. They are struggling to stop the rush of home-bound travellers who reached the terminal by taking short trips and walking kilometres to cross police barricades and get another ride.
At least 26 people died a few days ago after an overcrowded speedboat had crashed into a sand carrier in Madaripur’s Shibchar amid the lockdown.