At least 31 people died and more than 100 people were missing after a ferry carrying between 200 and 300 people collided with a cargo boat on a river in southern Bangladesh, officials said.
Rescue workers began retrieving bodies from inside the double-decker Shariatpur 1 ferry, which was hit by another vessel in the middle of the Meghna river, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) south-east of the capital Dhaka on Tuesday morning.
“Divers have recovered 31 dead bodies from the sunken vessel including five women and two children,” local police chief Shahidul Islam said, adding the death toll was likely to rise once the sunken ferry is pulled out of the water.
Islam added that 35 passengers had been rescued by another ferry soon after the accident which occurred at about 2:30am local time.
Dulal Dewan, one of the survivors, recalled a scene of chaos as the ferry crashed into the cargo ship.
“I was awakened with a big jolt,” the businessman, who was asleep on the top deck, said. “I jumped into the river in darkness as the ferry started going down.
“In minutes there were screams all around,” he said. “People were shouting for help.”
Dewan said he was rescued by a nearby boat, but eight other family members traveling with him were still unaccounted for.
The exact number of passengers on any ferry is often uncertain as passenger lists are not maintained properly and many people buy their tickets when they board.
According to USA Today, boats are the main form of travel in Bangladesh’s remote rural areas and accidents are common due to lax safety standards and overloading.
In April 2011 32 people were killed after a passenger vessel sank in the Meghna river after colliding with a cargo ship and at least 85 people drowned in 2009 when an overloaded triple-decker ferry capsized off Bhola Island in the country’s south.
For raw footage of the aftermath of the 2012 Bangladesh ferry crash, watch the following video from the AP (Warning: Some of the video footage is graphic):
via Fox News