Page last updated at 06:59 GMT, Monday, 30 November 2009

Bangladesh ferry death roll rises to 72

MV Coco was re-floated two days after it sunk
As the ferry was re-floated, more bodies were discovered

The number of people dead after a ferry capsized in Bangladesh has risen to 72 with the recovery of more bodies, officials say.

Rescuers found the bodies floating on the Tetulia river where the overcrowded ferry capsized on Friday, a police official said.

Earlier, rescuers working on the capsized vessel were pelted with stones by relatives angry at delays.

There have been complaints that workers took too long to get to the scene.

More than 1,000 people were thought to be on board, many heading home for the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha.

On Sunday a salvage ship managed to give rescuers access to the sunken vessel's lower deck where dozens of bodies were discovered.

Rescue officials said that "dozens of people are still missing."

Lower decks

The vessel, MV Coco-4, started to sink as it tried to anchor late on Friday, at a terminal in the south of the country.

Local residents joined divers to help search for survivors, but once access to the ferry came on Sunday, 21 bodies were discovered inside the cabins, a local police chief told AFP news agency.

The ferry - like many others in Bangladesh - did not have a detailed passenger list so it is impossible to know exactly who is missing.

On Sunday some people who had been waiting for hours for news briefly threw stones at rescuers.

No one was injured.

"The ferry sank just before midnight Friday, but rescuers did not arrive until the morning," Reuters news agency reported survivor Sohel Hossain as saying.

Local police chief Zakir Hossain told AFP: "They pelted rocks and brick pieces at the divers and rescue workers.

"They are unhappy that the divers and the rescue vessel could not complete work quickly. Some of them have yet to find their missing relatives."

Stampede theory

It was unclear exactly how the vessel came to capsize, but an investigation had been launched, Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan told AFP.

"Officials had locked the ferry's exit gate as it approached the shore to find out whether anyone was travelling without a ticket," he said.

"This triggered a stampede, causing the boat to tip."

The MV Coco-4 is one of Bangladesh's largest inland vessels.

Ferry accidents occur frequently in Bangladesh, and are typically blamed on unsafe, ageing boats and overcrowding.

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