Bangladesh ferry capsizes on Meghna river near Dhaka

  • 15 May 2014
  • From the section Asia
Media captionFerry accidents are common on Bangladesh's vast river network and scores are killed every year

Rescuers are continuing to search for survivors after a ferry carrying at least 200 people capsized and sank during a storm in Bangladesh.

A number of bodies have been recovered so far but police say they fear the death toll will rise.

The ferry overturned in high winds on the Meghna river in Munshiganj district, south of the capital, Dhaka.

Ferry accidents are common on Bangladesh's vast river network and scores are killed every year.

Such incidents are often blamed on overcrowding and poor quality of the boats, which are the main form of travel in some rural parts of the country.

Passenger confusion

The MV Miraj-4 capsized as it travelled from Dhaka towards Shariatpur district.

The BBC's Shahnaz Parveen in Dhaka says the double-decker ferry is believed to have been overloaded with passengers.

Image caption A relative holds a photo of his niece, who was on the ferry. Officials said the death toll is expected to rise
Image caption Hundreds of local residents gathered on the bank of the river to wait for news of the missing passengers

Saiful Hassan Badal, a local government official, said there were "confusing figures" on how many passengers were on board when the ship sank, but he said the number could range from "200 to 350."

Local police chief Ferdous Ahmed told the AFP news agency that "around 20-30 people" managed to swim to safety.

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.

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.

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