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Death toll climbs in Bangladesh ferry sinking

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Recovery workers are trying to salvage the wreck of a ferry that sank on a river in Bangladesh, drowning scores of passengers.

By Wednesday, the death toll stood at 110 after more bodies were recovered from near the scene of the accident, sources said, a number expected to rise.

"Bodies popped out one after another"

- Abdul Barek, a witness

Rescue vessels found the ferry in about 20m of water and managed to pull it to the river bank on Wednesday.

Some victims floated up as the boat was raised.

"Bodies popped out one after another," Abdul Barek, a witness, said.

The double-decker MV Shariatpur 1 ferry was hit early on Tuesday morning by a cargo boat, capsizing in the middle of the Meghna river in Munshiganj district, about 32km south of Dhaka.

Khan said about 35 survivors were rescued from the water, while local media reported that another 40 managed to swim to shore.

Wailing relatives milled about on the bank as the ferry was dragged to shore.

The death toll stood at 35 on Tuesday and 75 more bodies were recovered on Wednesday, rescue officials said.

Azizul Alam, a senior district official, told reporters that according to information from relatives, at least 61 people were
missing.

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.

Khan said a bigger rescue vessel, MV Hamza, reached the scene Wednesday morning and would work on salvaging the sunken boat. The ferry sank in about 21 metres of water.

Some of the bodies inside the sunken ferry were buried under cargo, said Mohammad Alauddin, a diver who was among the searchers.

Accidents common

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

Hundreds of anxious people, many of them weeping, had gathered near the scene of the accident to look for loved ones who were on board the ferry.

Survivor Dulal Dewan described chaos as the ferry and cargo boat collided.

"I was awakened with a big jolt ... I jumped into the river in darkness as the ferry started going down."

"In minutes there were screams all around," he said. "People were shouting for help."

An investigation has been ordered into the cause of the accident, Azizul Alam, the area's government administrator, told AP.


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