DHAKA, (Reuters) – Rescuers have retrieved 32 bodies, including at least 12 children, and are searching for scores of people missing after an overcrowded ferry sank in a river along the Bangladesh coast, police and witnesses said on Saturday.
They said the ferry M.V. Coco-4 was sailing to the coastal town of Bhola, some 300 km (185 miles) from Dhaka, on Friday night with around 1,500 people on board — about three times the number it was registered to carry.
The death toll late on Friday had been put at five.
Many of those on board were going home to celebrate the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival on Saturday.
Media at the scene reported the ferry started taking in water after it hit a raised section of the river bed in heavy fog.
Most of those on board swam to safety but up to 80 may still be missing, one survivor said. The ferry was listed with a capacity to carry about 450 people. “People were trying desperately to reach home before the Eid prayers on Saturday morning. They even found themselves room in the ferry’s luggage holds,” one witness told reporters.
Officials and transport operators said they were still waiting for a rescue vessel to arrive. An investigation into the sinking has been ordered, the communications ministry said.
Hundreds of people die every year in ferry accidents in Bangladesh, but no major ferry disasters have happened in the past two years after stricter enforcing of safety rules.