Dramatic midnight rescue at Meghna
Report By Morshed Ali Khan ›
Staffs of a passenger launch, MV Pubali, plying between Bhandaria and Dhaka dramatically rescued a 18-year old girl from the middle of the river Meghna at around 2 am Friday, October 21.
The young girl Nasreen from Betagi in Barguna, was on her way to Dhaka from Barisal on October 20 on MV Kirtonkhola when she accidentally fell overboard at around midnight without anyone spotting her.
As soon as she fell into the water, Kirtonkhola vanished from her sight in minutes, leaving her in total darkness in the 18-km wide river Meghna. She knew she had no other way other than keep floating in the strong current. “I first took my veil off from my face because it was suffocating me,” she said later on phone from her in-law’s home in Betagi.
None back home knew about her whereabouts. For on Thursday, a day before the incident she had an argument with her mother-in-law and husband. The emotionally charged college student, married recently, put on her black veil to avoid detection and slipped out of the house. From Betagi she took a bus to Barisal 60 km away, and boarded the Dhaka-bound Kirtonkhola in the evening. She had decided to change her life in the capital.
“As I struggled in the river trying to stay alive, my mind flew back home to my mother, father, only brother and sister, I tried to cry out but there was no sound.”
A group of ruling party men was on their way to Dhaka from Kawkhali to attend the Awami League council to be held next day. The group had boarded MV Pubali. As the party men chatted, one of them heard a sharp cry from the river. It was around 2 am. They immediately raised the alarm.
“I clung to a small banana log as it hit me then what I saw was probably my last chance to survive,” She sad. “A big launch was coming towards me in full speed.”
“I gathered all my strength and shouted for help again and again, the vessel went past me from yards away with large waves hitting me so hard, I almost drowned.”
“Then suddenly I saw the launch stop and turn round but instead of coming towards me it was focusing its searchlights elsewhere.”
“Then I was shocked to see it turn round and speed away. This time I shouted, “bachao, bachao, bachao with all my strength and minutes later it (the vessel) turned round again and finally spotted me, clinging to the banana tree and shouting.”
Mohammad Mizan, a senior staff on the MV Pubali could not believe how she could remain on the navigational channel for so long.
“The current is so fierce in the Meghna at this time of the year she should have been drifted away towards the Bay of Bengal,” Mizan said. “It is a miracle how she remained on our navigational route.”
Kirtonkhola staffs knew nothing about its missing passenger. “All the passenger launches have people falling into the water but fellow passengers raise the alarm immediately, but in this case it happened late in the night when most people on the deck were asleep,” said a staff of Kirtonkhola who identified himself as Khokon.
Meanwhile, the Pubali staffs, on arrival in Dhaka informed Nasreen’s parents about the incident and arranged for them to take her back home.
Nasreen said she did not regret trying to change her life. “I may try again to go to Dhaka and find a work but this time I shall try along with my husband, may be.”
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