Bangladesh rescuers try to haul capsized ferry to river bank

DHAKA Thu May 15, 2014 11:13pm EDT

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DHAKA May 16 (Reuters) - Bangladeshi rescuers were trying on Friday to pull a capsized ferry to land in their search for victims still believed trapped in the vessel that went over during bad weather with about 200 people on board.

Twenty-two people are known to have drowned when the M.V. Miraj-4 tipped over in high wind and rain on the Meghna river near the capital, Dhaka, on Thursday.

About 40 people swam to shore and 35 were rescued, police and rescue official said, meaning about 100 people were unaccounted for.

Low-lying Bangladesh with extensive inland waterways and slack safety standards has a poor record for ferry accidents with casualties sometimes running into the hundreds.

"Instead of recovering bodies from inside of wreckage, now we're focused on pulling the ferry (to the river bank)," Saiful Hassan Badal, deputy commissioner of Munshiganj district, told Reuters by telephone from the scene.

"We'll get a clearer picture once the ferry is pulled out."

Most of the passengers were city workers and students heading home for the weekend beginning on Friday.

Passenger Abdur Rahman, 50, who managed to swim to shore, said passengers had asked the captain to pull into the shelter of the river bank when a sudden storm struck.

"But he ignored us ... the ferry capsized within a few seconds," Rahman said.

Another passenger who swam to shore, Liton Hussain, told reporters he had lost his wife, son and daughter.

Hundreds of people including wailing relatives of missing passengers thronged the river bank at the site. (Editing by Robert Birsel)

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