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Bangladesh says 115 missing after ferry capsizes

English.news.cn   2014-08-04 23:58:50

Soldiers stand guard at the site of a ferry accident in the Munshiganj district, some 27 km south of capital Dhaka, Bangladesh, Aug. 4, 2014. Some 115 people were still missing Monday hours after a jam-packed ferry carrying around 250 passengers sank in the middle of the Padma river in central Bangladesh, killing at least three and injuring dozens, officials said. (Xinhua/Shariful Islam)

by Naim-Ul-Karim

Dhaka, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- Some 115 people were still missing Monday hours after a jam-packed ferry carrying around 250 passengers sank in the middle of a river in central Bangladesh, killing at least three and injuring dozens, officials said.

"115 ill-fated passengers' relatives have so far lodged complaints to authorities, urging recovery of bodies," Kaniz Fatema, assistant superintendent of Police in Munshiganj district, some 27 km away from capital Dhaka, told Xinhua via mobile phone.

She said 120 people, who survived by swimming, were rescued shortly after the ferry capsized in high winds and rain on the Padma's Maowa-Kewrakandi river route.

She said rescuers have been facing severe difficulties due to high waves and strong winds in their search for missing people.

Fatema said a heavy rescue vessel Rustom has been called in to boost local efforts to salvage the double-decker ferry which capsized in Padma, one of the three rivers that form the Ganges Delta.

"Hope divers could start operation to trace and salvage the sunken ferry shortly after the arrival of the rescue vessel which is on way to the accident site."

Senior Fire Brigade official Nurul Alam Dulal said the waves are as high as 3-4 meters, while the location of the sunken ferry is quite far from the shore.

He said the navy, coast guard and fire service divers have already joined the rescue operation but the inclement weather made it almost impossible for them to search in waters.

More than 10 hours after the ferry capsized, according to the officials, divers fighting strong currents and winds were unable to search in waters to trace it.

"We're keenly awaiting the arrival of a heavy rescue vessel. Braving high waves and strong winds, we went to the probable accident site but could not stay there for a moment as the small engine boat carried us failed to anchor," Dulal said.

Tofazzal Hossain, officer-in-charge of Lauhajang Police Station in Munshiganj district, had earlier said the ferry Pinak-6 capsized in Padma river at around 11:15 a.m.local time.

"Bodies of two women and one child have been recovered so far," said Hossain.

"We've come to know that the ferry was overloaded with passengers and it capsized in the Padma river which was rough enough," said another police official who preferred to be unnamed.

Hundreds of relatives and friends of the ill-fated passengers Saturday also gathered at the accident site to identify the dead or in the quest for the missing.

Bangladesh's ministry of shipping has announced a grant of 120, 000 taka (about 1,538 U.S. dollars) for the burial of each identified and unidentified body.

The ferry services in Bangladesh never maintain list of passengers and none can exactly say how many passengers a ferry carries.

Ferry disasters are common in Bangladesh with about 250 rivers. Ferry is still a key means of transport in the country. Most of them are often overcrowded.

At least 138 bodies were recovered after an overcrowded ferry capsized in March 2012, also in Munshiganj.

Editor: Mengjie
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