DHAKA A Bangladeshi ferry with around 200 passengers on board capsized in a storm on a river near the capital Dhaka on Thursday, with police reporting that at least nine bodies had been recovered, but there were fears that the toll would climb.
"We fear there will be more bodies inside the vessel and we cannot be sure of the number of passengers (on board)," Saiful Hassan Badal, Deputy Commissioner of Munshiganj district told Reuters by telephone from the scene of the accident.
The M.V. Miraj-4 ferry capsized in high winds and rain in the Meghna river at Rasulpur in Munshiganj district, 27 kilometers from Dhaka. The accident occurred at around 3:30 pm (0930 GMT). The ferry had been going to Shariatpur from Dhaka.
Some survivors were able to swim ashore, despite strong currents and high waves whipped up by the storm.
"There was a sudden storm and we requested the boat-swain to anchor at the river side but he ignored us...and all on a sudden the ferry capsized within a few seconds" said Abdur Rahman, 50, a passenger who had managed to swim ashore.
A rescue vessel sent from Dhaka reached the stricken ferry some three hours later, and Saiful said firefighters and members of the coast guard, including divers were involved in search efforts.
So far nine bodies had been recovered, including those of women and children, according to Oliur Rahman, a police officer at the scene.
Bangladesh has a sorry history of ferry disasters, with casualties sometimes running into hundreds due to overcrowding.
(Reporting By Serajul Quadir; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)