Bangladesh ferry disaster death toll climbs to 40

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The death toll from the sinking of an overcrowded ferry carrying Hindu devotees in northern Bangladesh climbed to 40 on Monday, with many passengers missing a day after the latest in a series of such disasters to hit the South Asian country.

Onlookers and relatives of the missing gathered along the riverbank as rescuers searched for bodies.

Those recovered so far included 22 women and 11 children, said Jahurul Islam, district administrator of Panchagarh, where the accident occurred.

“Divers are searching for more bodies as some are still missing,” he said, adding the ferry was taking Hindu devotees to a temple on the occasion of Mahalaya, when Hindus make offerings to their ancestors.

A five-member committee was investigating the sinking but initial reports suggested the boat was carrying almost three times its capacity, Islam said.

Authorities were making checks on the list of the missing based on information provided by relatives, he said, while passengers said more than 70 people had been on board.

Police said some of the passengers managed to swim ashore or were rescued.

Hundreds of people die each year in ferry accidents in Bangladesh, a low-lying country that has extensive inland waterways and lax safety standards. 

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