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Bangla ferry sinking death toll rises to 14
February 10, 2013
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DHAKA: Rescuers have recovered a dozen more bodies after a ferry reportedly carrying up to 100 passengers capsized on a river in central Bangladesh, raising the death toll to 14.

Dozens of passengers were rescued or swam to shore after the ferry went down Friday on the River Meghna in Munshiganj district, 32 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital, Dhaka.

Rescuers retrieved two bodies on Friday, and 12 more were recovered on Saturday.

Local government administrator Mohammad Saiful Hassan said the search for survivors was called off after Saturday's recovery, but some relatives say their loved ones are still missing.

There was confusion over the number of passengers on board the ferry.

The small vessel was ferrying passengers on Friday on the Meghna river, close to the town of Gazaria in the central Munshiganj district, when it collided with a barge laden with sand to be used for construction.

While some passengers managed to swim to safety as the wooden boat went down rapidly, many others remain unaccounted for, according to officials involved in the rescue effort.

"Divers have pulled 12 more dead bodies from the sunken vessel," district police chief Mohammad Shahabuddin said, adding that the ferry had been recovered and would be searched for more bodies. "The death toll is now 14."

The exact number of people aboard the ferry was uncertain as passenger lists are often not maintained properly in Bangladesh and many travellers buy tickets on board.

Police said that the ferry was carrying around 100 people, with 40 people feared missing.

Nasir Hossain, who participated in the rescue operation on Friday using his own boat, said that he and others helped pull 13 people out of the water.

"I heard a bang as a sand-laden barge hit the boat in the middle of the river and saw the overcrowded boat sink quickly," Hossain told a local television channel.

Bangladesh has a history of boat disasters as a result of poor safety standards and frequent overloading of vessels.

Last March 147 people were killed when a passenger vessel sank in the Meghna river after colliding with a cargo ship.

At least 149 people were killed in the worst boat tragedy in February 2005 when a ferry sank in the Buriganga river on the outskirts of Dhaka.

In December 2009, 46 people, mostly women and children, drowned in the Daira river in the northeastern district of Kishorganj after a ferry capsized and sank.

Agencies

 

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