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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Bangladeshi ferry corpses found
Relatives gather on the bank near the ferry disaster
Relatives say they will remain at the scene of the disaster
The number of people killed when an overcrowded ferry sank in southern Bangladesh during a storm on Sunday has risen to nearly 60, officials say.

Rescuers say all the bodies trapped inside the boat have now been removed. A bride and groom are among about 20 people still missing.

Distraught relatives have gathered on the river bank in Patuakhali district, about 200km (125 miles) south of Dhaka.

Ferry accidents kill scores of people every year in Bangladesh.

Corpses

"We have now found 56 bodies including 38 taken from the boat by the salvage teams," local administrator Mesbah Uddin told the AFP news agency.

"The boat has been completely searched and all the bodies trapped inside have been removed. However, we will continue scouring the river further downstream for more bodies."

Map

He said most of the bodies had been discovered by salvage teams who worked through the night to raise the vessel. Other corpses were floating in the river.

Officials told the Reuters news agency that they expected to end the search for survivors on Tuesday.

But grieving relatives said they would stay at the scene indefinitely to find their loved ones, dead or alive.

'Heavily loaded'

The single-deck MV Prince of Patuakhali was licensed to carry 80 passengers, but reports say many more were on board. Officials say it was not carrying a passenger list.

Survivors say more than 200 passengers were on board when the ferry capsized and sank in deep water near Golapchipa, about 40km (25 miles) east of Patuakhali.

Overloaded Bangladeshi ferry
Bangladeshi ferries are notoriously unsafe

Witnesses say those who survived swam to safety or were rescued by nearby boats.

One survivor, Oliul Islam, said: "The ferry was heavily loaded with passengers. At about a 1145 it tilted in bad weather and strong tides. And when panicked passengers rushed to the other side, the ferry went down."

Correspondents say Bangladeshi ferries are notoriously unsafe and often overloaded.

The BBC's Waliur Rahman in Dhaka says accidents are often caused by a combination of rough weather and overcrowding by ferry owners eager to boost revenues.

Incomplete or non-existent lists make it difficult to ascertain passenger numbers.



SEE ALSO:
Bangladesh's ferry safety failures
20 Feb 05 |  South Asia
Bangladesh ferry deaths reach 116
19 May 05 |  South Asia
Ferry sinks in Bangladesh storm
23 May 04 |  South Asia
Country profile: Bangladesh
10 Mar 05 |  Country profiles


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