April 21, 2011 / 9:10 AM / 9 years ago

Dozens dead, many missing as Bangladesh ferry sinks

DHAKA (Reuters) - A ferry carrying more than 100 people capsized in Bangladesh Thursday after colliding with another vessel, killing at least 26 people, police said.

The death toll was expected to rise with some passengers believed trapped inside the ferry and dozens missing, rescuers said.

Hundreds of people die in ferry accidents on low-lying Bangladesh’s many rivers every year as operators often ignore rules that authorities fail to enforce.

“Divers are trying to retrieve more bodies from the sunken ferry,” a senior police official, Zahurul Islam Khan, told Reuters from the scene.

The ferry, M. L. Bipasha, sank after it collided with a cargo vessel on the Meghna river at Rajapur, 130 km (80 miles)northeast of the capital Dhaka.

Around 40 people jumped off the ferry and swam to the shore after it was hit by the cargo vessel.

“I woke up hearing a big bang and jumped immediately into the water, then swam ashore,” a survivor told a television network.

But the ferry, which was sailing from Bhairab — near the accident spot — to northeast, sank with the rest of passengers after the collision, local officials said.

A rescue vessel picked up most survivors from the sinking ferry, but dozens of passengers were still missing.

Anxious people gathered on the river bank waiting for news of missing relatives, witnesses said.

Another vessel is expected to reach the spot late on Thursday or early Friday to try to salvage the two-deck, mostly wooden ferry.

Reporting by Nizam Ahmed; Editing by Anis Ahmed and Yoko Nishikawa

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