66 dead as Bangladesh ferry capsizes after collision

At least 66 people died when a passenger ferry carrying more than 150 passengers and crew capsized after colliding with a trawler on a river in central Bangladesh on Sunday, police said.

Rescuers managed to save at least 50 passengers and were still searching for more survivors, regional police official Harun-ur Rashid said yesterday.

Low-lying Bangladesh, with extensive inland waterways and slack safety standards, suffers regular ferry disasters, with deaths sometimes running into the hundreds.

More than half of the 66 bodies retrieved so far from the river Padma were women and children, Harun said.

Police have seized the trawler and arrested the captain and his two crew, he said.

“The ferry was recovered … and there were 23 bodies inside,” Harun said.

“There might be more bodies trapped inside the ferry and searching is continuing,” he said. Another 43 bodies were pulled from the water earlier on Sunday.

Rescuers from the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority and Red Cross were still searching the river.

The ferry was heading to Paturia from Daulatdia in Rajbari, located on the opposite bank of the river, about 135 km (85 miles) west of the capital, Dhaka.

Shajahan Khan, the shipping minister, told reporters at the scene that an investigation had been launched.

A similar accident on Feb. 13 killed at least seven passengers in southern Bangladesh.

Experts blame poorly maintained vessels, flaws in design and overcrowding for most of the tragedies.

Earlier this month at least five people including a minor were killed when an overloaded ferry carrying some 200 passengers capsized in an estuary in the south of the country.

About 50 people were killed in August last year when a crowded ferry sank in rough weather in the Munshiganj district.

Some 150 people were killed in March 2012 after a overcrowded ferry carrying about 200 passengers sank after being hit by an oil barge in the dead of night.

In 2011 32 people were killed after a passenger vessel sank in the Meghna river in Munshiganj after colliding with a cargo ship.

At least 85 people drowned in 2009 when an overloaded triple-decker ferry capsized off Bhola Island in the south.

Naval officials have said more than 95 percent of Bangladesh’s hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized boats do not meet minimum safety regulations.



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