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Bangladesh official rules out finding more ferry survivors

Source: Reuters - Fri, 16 May 2014 06:42 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Serajul Quadir

DHAKA, May 16 (Reuters) - A Bangladeshi official said on Friday there was no chance of finding further survivors of a ferry that sank in a storm with about 200 people on board, the latest in a series of fatal ferry accidents to hit the poverty-stricken country.

Twenty-eight people are known to have drowned when the M.V. Miraj-4 capsized on the Meghna river near the capital, Dhaka, on Thursday.

About 40 people swam to shore and 35 were rescued, police and rescue officials said, meaning about 100 people were unaccounted for as wailing relatives thronged the river bank.

"Now it is more than 20 hours since the ferry sank, so there is no possibility to find anyone alive inside the vessel," Saiful Hassan Badal, deputy commissioner of Munshiganj district, told Reuters.

Low-lying Bangladesh, with extensive inland waterways and slack safety standards, has an appalling record of ferry accidents, with casualties sometimes running into the hundreds and many vessels overcrowded. Each time, the government vows to toughen regulations.

Relatives of passengers protested over the slow pace of recovery efforts.

"It is more that 20 hours, but we see no visible progress," said Sabuj Mia, a survivor, who said he had been waiting for news of his missing son.

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.

In March 2012, a ferry sank near the same spot, killing at least 145 people.

The accident happened a month after an overloaded South Korean ferry sank, killing more than 280 passengers, many of them children on a school field trip. The captain and three senior crew members were charged with homicide on Thursday. (Writing by Nick Macfie)

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