Friday, 16 May 2014

Bangladesh ferry capsizes; at least 22 bodies recovered and others still missing (update)

Rescuers have recovered at least 22 bodies after a ferry capsized during a storm in a river in central Bangladesh, officials said Friday.

Police estimated at least 100 people were still missing, but there was no clear picture about exactly how many people were on board because the ferry operators did not maintain a passenger list, said a local administrator, Saiful Hasan.

Sabuj, a passenger who jumped overboard when the ship began to sink, said he was among some 25 people who managed to swim to safety.

He said the captain of the double-decker ferry ignored the passengers' calls to stay close to the shore as the storm started brewing.

"But he continued to steer the ship" out into the water, said Sabuj, who uses one name.

Relatives of the missing and the dead were gathering near the Meghna River, near where the boat capsized Thursday afternoon in Munshiganj district. Several recovered bodies, covered in cloth, were on the banks of the river, according to television footage.

Officials said divers had located the sunken ferry and were attempting to recover bodies as darkness fell.

A navy ship, a salvage vessel and about a dozen speedboats were pictured helping with rescue efforts at the scene of the incident.

But the width of the river, the depth of the water and the strong currents were hampering the search, officials added.

Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation, because of overcrowding, faulty vessels and lax rules.

Boats are the main form of transport in the rural parts of Bangladesh and ferry accidents are common.

In March 2012, more than 112 people died when a ferry on the wide and fast-moving Meghna river collided with an oil tanker and sank.

The authorities have been repeatedly criticised for failing to honour their pledges to tackle lax safety standards.

Friday 16 May 2014


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