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Bangladesh mourns crash deaths of 44 students

Bangladesh mourns crash deaths of 44 students

Many schools in southeastern Bangladesh were closed Tuesday as authorities and families mourned the deaths of 44 mostly schoolboys when the truck they were riding from a soccer match crashed into a canal.
Police launched a manhunt for the driver who fled immediately after Monday's crash.
The victims' relatives were holding prayers at their homes and mosques. They were visited by two senior Cabinet ministers and one of them promised jobs for the impoverished families.
"The whole nation is shocked today, we have no word to express our sympathy," a sobbing Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid told a crowd at a school ground. "They were our children, nothing can condole the loss."
The government pledged initial financial help of 20,000 takas ($267) to each of the families, local police chief Iftekhar Hasan told The Associated Press by phone.
President Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also sent their condolences.
Rescuers, joined by military troops and doctors from nearby towns, pulled out the vehicle Monday evening from the small ditch filled with recent rains in Chittagong district, 136 miles (216 kilometers) southeast of the capital, Dhaka.
The cargo truck was hired to take about 60 people, mostly schoolchildren between ages 8 and 12, home after they watched a soccer tournament, a common practice in Bangladesh.
At least 12 children were being treated at hospitals, Hasan said.
"According to several witnesses, the boys were singing and dancing on board the truck," said Hasan. "The truck skidded off the muddy road and turned (over) as it plunged into the canal."
The cause of the crash was not clear, but news reports said the driver was talking on his cellphone and lost control while trying to give room for a vehicle coming from the opposite direction.
Earlier Monday, angry residents vandalized some vehicles in the area while complaining that rescuers were late to reach the scene.
Road accidents are common in Bangladesh due to reckless driving, lax traffic rules and poor road conditions. An independent research group says about 12,000 Bangladeshis die each year in such accidents.


Updated : 2021-06-24 08:35 GMT+08:00