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Bangladesh rescuers struggle to find sunken ferry

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 4, 2014 at 11:02 pm •  Published: August 4, 2014

LOUHAJONG, Bangladesh (AP) — Rescuers were struggling Tuesday to locate a sunken ferry that was overloaded and carrying hundreds of passengers when it capsized in a river in central Bangladesh, leaving at least two people dead and probably many more.

After the M.V. Pinak sank late Monday morning, at least 44 passengers swam safely to shore, but it was unclear Tuesday how many were missing. The head of Bangladesh's water transport authority said about 50 people were unaccounted for, while local administrators received a list of 116 missing people from relatives and villagers.

It was not known exactly how many people were on board the boat because ferry operators in Bangladesh rarely maintain passenger lists. Local media said there were about 250 passengers, but the figure could not be immediately confirmed.

A salvage ship reached the accident site in the River Padma on Tuesday, but strong currents and high waves were preventing a rescue operation from being launched, said Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan.

On Monday, local residents and rescuers recovered two bodies from the water, but many more were believed to be trapped inside.

Many of the passengers aboard the ferry were returning from ancestral villages after celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

Azizul Haque, who was among those who survived by swimming to shore, said he jumped overboard when it became clear the ferry was going down.

"The ferry went out of control due to winds and currents, tilting from one side to the other," Haque, 30, said. "Then the captain jumped out because he probably understood it was sinking. The river was rough, and there were many passengers on board."

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