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Ferry sinks in Bangladesh storm

13 May 08 16:17 GMT

At least 40 people have been killed after a ferry capsized during a storm in northern Bangladesh, officials say.

The ferry, carrying nearly 150 passengers, sank in the Ghorautura river, nearly 180km (115 miles) from the capital, Dhaka.

Reports said about 25 passengers swam ashore but others were feared trapped in the stricken boat.

Bangladesh frequently sees ferry accidents - typically blamed on unsafe, ageing boats and on overcrowding.

In February, at least 39 people died after a ferry collided with another vessel in Buriganga river near Dhaka and capsized.

A study on ferry safety has said that about 20,000 cargo and passenger vessels operate in Bangladesh, and about half of them fail to meet basic safety standards, or take on more than their legal quota of passengers.

The study asked the government to strengthen coast guard patrols, identify dangerous river crossings, enforce registration requirements and provide training for navigators and crew.

The government says that measures are being taken to improve safety on the waterways.

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