Death Toll Rises in Bangladesh Ferry Disaster

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March 14, 2012

The death toll from Tuesday’s ferry disaster in Bangladesh continues to rise as rescuers were able to recover more and more bodies from the crowded MV Shariatpur 1 passenger ferry that quickly sank following a collision with an oil barge.

The accident occurred at about 2:30am local time on Meghna River approximately 20 miles south of Bangladesh’s capital city of Dhaka.  The ferry was traveling to Dhaka from the Shariatpur district with an estimated 200 people on board when the collision occurred.  The exact number of passengers, and missing, is yet to be determined as passenger manifests in the region are often inaccurate.

Onlookers described a chaotic scene as scores of passengers jumped into the river to escape the fast sinking vessel, with some being picked up by nearby vessels and others swimming to shore.

Search and rescue efforts were called off late Wendesday as salvors were raised the vessel from the riverbed, allowing for the recovery of more bodies.

The accident led IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu to reaffirm its commitment to domestic passenger safety while speaking to the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Radiocommunications and Search and Rescue on Wednesday.

Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation crisscrossed by more than 230 rivers. They are often blamed on overcrowding, faulty vessels and lax rules, according to the Associated Press.

At total of 112 bodies have been recovered so far.

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