Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Ferry rescue efforts criticised

A Bangladeshi woman whose daughters are missing cries as rescuers search the River Padma after a passenger ferry capsized (AP)

Families of scores of people presumed dead after their ferry capsized in central Bangladesh today accused authorities of launching a feeble rescue effort and leaving their loved ones trapped inside the vessel for more than 24 hours.

More than 200 people were believed to be on board the MV Pinak when it capsized yesterday.

Shipping minister Shajahan Khan told reporters today that at least 125 were presumed dead and 110 others either swam to safety or were rescued after the accident.

Rescuers have not been able to locate the capsized ferry because of strong currents.

"Can't I expect the body of my sister? What are they doing? Nothing," said Monir Hossain, who travelled to the accident site to search for his sister.

Officials can only give estimates of the number of people on board because ferry operators in Bangladesh rarely keep passenger lists.

Rescuers were still trying today to locate the ferry using ropes, tug boats and speed boats while two big rescue vessels remained on shore near the accident site because of stormy weather.

Rescuers were also using sensor equipment to locate the ferry, which went under about 80ft of water, but strong currents were hampering their efforts, Mr Khan said.

"We are trying to bring another survey ship to locate the ferry," he said, adding that they needed the ship to arrive before trying to reach the capsized boat.

Dozens of relatives of the missing passengers briefly blocked a street near the site to protest.

They complained that authorities were not making enough efforts to bring the ferry out of the water.

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