Bangladesh ferry disaster: 12 dead as ship with around 200 on board capsizes in Meghna river near Dhaka


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The Independent Online

At least 12 people have died after a river ferry capsized near the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka on Thursday, with around 200 passengers on board.

Rescue divers searching the wreck said they saw more remains inside, after police officers reported earlier in the day that some bodies had already been recovered.

Among the bodies recovered was one of a child, according to Oliur Rahman, a police officer at the scene.

The M.V. Miraj-4 ferry capsized in stormy weather at 3.30pm local time (0930 GMT), in the Meghna river at Rasulpur in Munshiganj district, 27 kilometres from Dhaka. The ferry had been going to Shariatpur from Dhaka.

Despite strong currents and high waves, around 40 people managed to swim ashore.

"We fear there will be more bodies inside the vessel and we cannot be sure of the number of passengers [on board]," said Saiful Hassan Badal, Deputy Commissioner of Munshiganj district.

"There was a sudden storm and we requested the boatswain to anchor at the riverside but he ignored us the ferry capsized within a few seconds," said Abdur Rahman, 50, a passenger who managed to swim to safety.

The Meghna river is one of the most important tributaries in the country.

In March 2012, at least 145 perished when a packed ferry carrying at least 250 people capsized on the river in the same district.

In another, earlier deadly accident, around 150 lost their lives in February 2005 when a ferry sank in the Buriganga river on the outskirts of Dhaka. In December 2009, 46 people, mostly women and children, drowned in Daira river in the north-eastern district of Kishorganj after a ferry capsized.