Five dead, dozens missing in ferry accident in Bangladesh

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DHAKA, March 20 (Reuters) - At least five people died and dozens went missing after a small ferry packed with passengers collided with a cargo vessel and sank on Sunday on the Shitalakhsya River in central Bangladesh, the latest waterway tragedy to hit the nation.

Five bodies have been recovered after the ferry sank as it departed from the industrial district of Narayanganj, about 20 km (12.43 miles) from the capital Dhaka, to Munshiganj, said local police official Mohammad Moniruzzaman.

The dead include two women and two children, he said, adding: "The rescue operation for those missing is ongoing."

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Police said they did not know the exact number of people missing, but passengers said more than 50 people had been on board, and some had managed to swim ashore.

Hundreds of people die each year in ferry accidents in Bangladesh, a low-lying South Asian country that has extensive inland waterways but lax safety standards. Nearly 30% of the country's 170 million people commute along river routes.

At least 26 people died in April after an overcrowded ferry collided with a cargo vessel and sank on the same Shitalakhsya River in Narayanganj.

In December, at least 41 people were killed and dozens injured after a packed ferry caught fire.

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Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Hugh Lawson

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