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Last Updated: Monday, 21 February, 2005, 09:39 GMT
Bangladesh ferry deaths reach 116
Bangladeshi ferry
Bangladeshi ferries are notoriously unsafe
At least 116 people are now confirmed dead after a ferry capsized in a storm in Bangladesh late on Saturday.

Police say the MV Maharaj had about 200 people on board when it sank in the Buriganga river near Dhaka, although witnesses say the number was higher.

Salvage operations are now complete but 20 people are still missing. Thousands of people gathered at the scene as bodies were pulled from the water.

Bangladeshi ferries are notoriously unsafe and often overloaded.

Officials fear the missing could have been carried away by strong currents in the river.

No passenger list

Relatives wailed loudly as divers brought out bodies.

Many had stayed at the scene all Sunday night waiting for the search to resume after operations were called off due to poor visibility.

Survivors say they believed more than 300 people had been on board the ferry.

Officials said they could not verify the number as no ferries possess a passenger list.

Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh through a combination of bad weather, faulty design and overcrowding.

Shipping minister Akbar Hossain visited the accident site on Sunday and called the disaster an act of God.

Last year he pledged to introduce measures aimed at reducing the number of accidents.

Bangladeshi man mourns his dead father
Many relatives waited all Sunday night for rescue work to resume

However, he has been criticised by passenger rights groups for being too soft on ferry owners.

The MV Maharaj was travelling from Dhaka to the eastern town of Chandpur when it capsized in Pagla Bazar.

Delwar Husain, 50, told the AFP news agency he saved his life by jumping from the deck of the boat, although his 20-year-old daughter died.

"It was very crowded. There were heavy winds and the ferry lurched and then I think it was hit by a trawler.

"It was chaos. I lost my daughter. Then I jumped and swam to the shore," he said.

Mr Rahman said many passengers were rescued by villagers and fishing boats.

In the last major incident of this kind, around 100 people are thought to have died in May after a ferry capsized in the Meghna river during a storm.

Ferry accidents have killed thousands of people in Bangladesh since 1986.

Bangladesh's ferry safety failures
20 Feb 05 |  South Asia
Ferry sinks in Bangladesh storm
23 May 04 |  South Asia
Bangladesh ferry crash kills many
05 Feb 04 |  South Asia
Ferry disaster claims hundreds
09 Jul 03 |  South Asia
Country profile: Bangladesh
26 Mar 04 |  Country profiles

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