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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 13:12 GMT
Bodies found in Bangladesh ferry
Bangladeshi ferry
Bangladeshi ferries are notoriously unsafe
Rescue workers in Bangladesh say they have recovered at least 120 bodies inside a ferry that capsized in a storm late on Saturday.

At least 200 people were on board the MV Maharaj when it sank in the Buriganga river near Dhaka.

Salvage operations are now complete but many passengers are still missing.

MPs have meanwhile strongly criticised the shipping ministry for failing to introduce measures to make river transport safer.

"The vessel has been salvaged and thoroughly searched. There are no more bodies inside," Lt Cmdr Mahbubur Rashid is quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

There are fears that some of the bodies may have floated downstream from the stricke4n double-decked vessel.

Police say that hundreds of anxious people are still searching for their loved ones in the river after three days of the accident.

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.

'Act of God'

Meanwhile MPs have expressed their anger at the frequent number of ferry accidents in Bangladesh, and have asked the shipping ministry to compile reports of incidents over the last five years.

More than 3,000 ferries operate in Bangladesh, a delta nation criss-crossed by hundreds of rivers. But MPs say about 80% of them are unfit to sail.

MPs of the parliamentary standing committee on the shipping ministry say the ministry has failed to introduce measures to make ferry journeys safe.

Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, especially in the stormy season in April and May. More than 3,000 passengers died in ferry accidents in the past five years.

Shipping Minister, Akbar Hossain earlier called the latest accident "an act of God".

He told journalists that a law with strict measures was being drafted to punish those who would violate river transport rules.

Dhaka businessman Narul Islam is one of many survivors and relatives using small boats to search the site of the latest disaster.

Mr Islam has been looking for his sister, Ruma, who was on board.

"I must find her alive or dead," he told AP.

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

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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