Sat, Jul 12, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Bangladeshi ferry sinking deaths may be as high as 350


Bloated and decomposing bodies washed ashore yesterday as rescue workers gave up hope for more than 500 people missing after a ferry disaster in southern Bangladesh.

The M V Nasreen went down on Tuesday night with about 750 people on board, and authorities said only 220 people survived. About 530 people are feared dead.

The ferry had a capacity of 350.

Rescuers plucked three more bodies from Meghna River yesterday, bringing to 16 the number recovered so far.

Most of the bodies have been found a few kilometers downstream of the accident.

Rescue workers said they now have little hope of finding survivors.

The ferry sank at the meeting point of three flood-swollen rivers -- the Padma, Meghna and Dakatia -- in Chandpur, 40km southeast of the capital, Dhaka.

Many passengers were believed to have been sleeping and trapped inside the ferry when it sank.

Three salvage ships yesterday resumed their search for the ferry, thought to be under 60m of water. The search had to be postponed yesterday because of heavy rain.

"It may still take a day or two to find the ship," said Shipping Minister Akbar Hossain late Thursday. "We are doing our best to salvage it."

Hundreds of relatives lined the shore, desperate for any word on their loved ones. Others raised black flags of mourning over their homes.

"Help me to find my son. He wanted to show me his new school uniform," cried 40-year-old Rizia Begum, whose 13-year-old son, Iqbal Hossain, was missing.

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