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Rescuers seek ferry capsize victims

Recovery workers are trying to raise the wreckage of a ferry which capsized in a river in Bangladesh with about 200 people on board.

The death toll has been put at 76 but dozens of passengers are still missing.

The ferry collided with a cargo boat and capsized in darkness early on Tuesday, sending hundreds of people into the Meghna River, just south of the capital, Dhaka.

Local police chief Mohammad Shahabuddin Khan said about 35 survivors were plucked from the water, while local media reported that another 40 managed to swim to shore.

Villagers and rescuers later found bodies inside the ferry and floating nearby, said rescue official Mahfuzul Haque. The dead included a young woman found cradling her baby, Mr Khan said.

"The death toll is likely to rise as more bodies are feared trapped inside," the police chief said. "We will get a better picture of the casualties once the sunken ferry is pulled out of the water."

Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation of 160 million people. They are often blamed on overcrowding, faulty vessels and lax rules.

Mr Khan could not specify how many people were missing but said many were feared dead. It is difficult to get a reliable estimate for the number of passengers as ferry operators rarely keep a list and most passengers buy tickets once on board.

The MV Shariatpur-1 was travelling to Dhaka from neighbouring Shariatpur district to the south-west. The accident site is in Munshiganj district, about 20 miles south of Dhaka.

Survivor Dulal Dewan described the chaos as the ferry and cargo boat collided. "I was awakened with a big jolt," said the businessman, who had been asleep on the top deck. "I jumped into the river in darkness as the ferry started going down." Mr Dewan said he was rescued by a nearby boat, but eight other family members travelling with him were still unaccounted for.


From Belfast Telegraph