At least ten people have died after a ferry carrying hundreds of passengers capsized in Bangladesh. The vessel was travelling on the river Meghna near the capital Dhaka when it was caught in a storm at 3.30pm local time (10.30am UK time). Local officials said it was unclear how many people were onboard but it could be up to 350 passengers.
“We are receiving confusing figures on how many passengers were on board when it sank, but the number could range from 200 to 350,” district government administrator Saiful Hasan said. Some survivors managed to swim ashore despite the strong currents and high waves. “There was a sudden storm and we requested the boat-swain to anchor at the river side but he ignored us … and all of a sudden the ferry capsized within a few seconds,” said Abdur Rahmann, one of the survivors. A rescue vessel sent to the scene in Munshiganj district, approximately 30 miles (50km) south of Dhaka, arrived three hours after the MV Miraj-4 ferry, which was travelling to the southern district of Shariatpur, sank.
Local police chief Ferdous Ahmed said: “The ferry is completely under water. We are now trying to locate it.” Firefighters and the coast guard were involved in the search for survivors. Police officer Oliur Rahman, who was at the scene, said the dead included women and children. Mr Ahmed said hundreds of relatives gathered on the river bank as bodies were laid in lines so they could be identified. Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, a delta nation of 153 million people, which is criss-crossed by more than 200 rivers. Overcrowding, poorly maintained vessels and design flaws are often blamed.