Vessel bound for St. Martin's stuck on sandbar, over 500 passengers aboard

A vessel carrying more than 500 tourists stuck on a sandbar en route St. Martin's Island in Cox’s Bazar on Saturday

A vessel carrying more than 500 tourists, was stuck on an underwater sandbar en route St. Martin's Island in Cox’s Bazar on Saturday.

The vessel, MV Baro Awlia, after leaving Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar, was trapped on a sandbar in Naikhongdia around 9:45am.

The authorities said when engine problems arose, the vessel took a break at the confluence of the Naf river and the Bay of Bengal. Later, with the help of a different engine, the vessel finally reached the St. Martin's jetty, one and a half hours after schedule.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, the Teknaf manager of the vessel MV Baro Awalia, Mahbub Alam, said, it was not possible to reach St Martin's on time with the tourists because of an engine glitch. It was essential to cross the sunken sandbars before the tide went out and so the vessels resumes its journey to Teknaf at 3:00 in the afternoon.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA)'s Teknaf in-charge, Amjad Hossain, told Prothom Alo, between 9:30am and 9:45am Saturday morning, nine vessels left Teknaf's Damdamia ghat for St Martin's. Prior to departure, members of the Coast Guard checked whether the vessels were carrying more tourists than capacity.

Teknaf sub inspector of the tourist police, Md Sirajul Islam, told Prothom Alo that the vessel was scheduled to arrive at the St Martin's jetty at around 12:00pm. But it only reached there around 1:45pm as it had got stuck on a submerged sandbar.

Tourists who had been aboard MV Baro Awlia said the vessel was carrying more passengers than capacity. Around 1 hour and 25 minutes of leaving Teknaf's Damdamia ghat, it got stuck on a sand bar at Naikhangdia in the mouth of the river Naf. It was stuck there for about 45 minutes.  It finally reached the St Martin's jetty at around 1:45pm/ It then took over half an hour for the passengers to disembark. Many tourists on board the vessel that tickets to return to Teknaf at 3:00pm and so didn't get down at St Martin's. They said this was a harassment.