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Last Updated: Monday, 14 April, 2003, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Bodies pulled from Bangladesh ferry
Rescuers in north-eastern Bangladesh have recovered more bodies from a capsized ferry, bringing the death toll to 23.

Bangladesh ferry
Overcrowding leads to frequent ferry disasters in Bangladesh
The accident occurred on Sunday in the district of Kishoreganj during a heavy storm on the Naghchini River.

About 40 people are still reported missing and police fear more bodies are trapped inside the sunken ferry.

Hundreds of anxious relatives have gathered on the river banks to look for their loved ones.

It is the second ferry disaster in Bangladesh this month.

At least 70 people drowned on 4 April at Chhatak, 250 kilometres (160 miles) north-east of Dhaka.

Many accidents

There were more than 100 people on board the ferry in this latest disaster. The exact number the vessel was carrying is not known.

Local officials say some - but not all - of those on board were able to swim to safety.

"We fear more bodies could be trapped inside the sunken ferry," police spokesman Saiful Alam told the BBC.

He said divers had found one more body on Monday following frantic rescue efforts over the past two days.

The ferry is expected to be salvaged later on Monday.

High risk

Bangladesh has one of the greatest number of ferry accidents in the world.

Boats are often overcrowded and lack basic safety equipment.

Establishing the exact number of casualties is made more difficult by the fact that few boats carry detailed passenger lists and survivors frequently fail to register with the authorities after they have swum to safety.

The risk of ferry accidents increases at this time of year with large numbers of people celebrating the first day of the summer season which begins on Monday.

The government says it is determined to improve safety on thousands of ferries and passenger vessels that ply the innumerable rivers and waterways of Bangladesh.

But so far ferries remain the only viable form of transport for large numbers of people, despite the dangers of travelling in them.

There have been more than 250 accidents since the late 1970s and thousands of people have died.

Bangladesh ferry death toll rises
07 Apr 03  |  South Asia

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