Capsized ferry in Bangladesh leaves 28 dead

13 March 2012 - 17:37 By Sapa-dpa

At least 28 people were killed when a ferry capsized in a Bangladeshi river Tuesday, officials said.

Many others were still missing, they said, as rescue operations continued.

The MV Shariatpur-1 capsized in the Meghna River near Charjhapta, 60 kilometres south of Dhaka, after it collided with a cargo vessel, an officer of the Munshiganj district police said.

Divers recovered 28 bodies from inside the sunken boat, including women and children, said Khandaker Shamsuzzaman, chairman of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority.

They fear more bodies are trapped inside the sunken vessel, he added.

Several thousand people thronged on the bank of the Meghna River, near the accident scene, searching for their missing relatives and friends as the divers continued their search, police officer Mohammad Sahabuddin Ahmed said.

Around 40 people managed to swim ashore after the accident occurred at about 2:30 am, chief district administrator Azizul Alam quoted witnesses as saying.

Liton Mia, a passenger on the Dhaka-bound boat, told the Prothom Alo newspaper that a few small boats tried to help those in the water, but only around 50 people were rescued or swam ashore.

The government announced a small compensation package of the family of the disaster victims.

Each of the families of the deceased will get 30 000 takas ($360), said Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan. Loss of two lives of a family would raise the compensation package to 45 000 takas, he added.

Ferry accidents in riverine Bangladesh are frequent because of lax implementation of laws, a lack of awareness about the risks, and inadequate safety standard maintained by the vessel operators.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed expressed deep sympathy to the bereaved family members and prayed for the salvation of the departed souls. Hasina ordered the authorities concerned to expedite rescue operation.

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