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Monday, 16 May, 2005, 22:59 UK
Sunken Bangladesh ferry salvaged


A ferry that sank in south Bangladesh during a storm on Sunday has been salvaged, with the number of confirmed dead now at 37.

At least 25 more are confirmed missing and others may have been washed away in the strong currents, officials say.

Witnesses say about 20 people survived the incident in Patuakhali district, about 200km (125 miles) south of Dhaka.

Ferry accidents kill scores of people every year in Bangladesh.

Passenger lists

The single-deck MV Prince of Patuakhali was licensed to carry 80 passengers, but reports say many more were on board.
The ferry was heavily loaded with passengers. At about a quarter-to-noon, it tilted in bad weather and strong tides
Survivor Oliul Islam
The rescue vessel finally reached the site on Monday after being delayed by bad weather, officials say.

Witnesses say those who survived swam to safety or were rescued by nearby boats.

A local journalist told the BBC that hundreds of grieving people had crowded on to the river bank, searching for loved ones.

Survivors say more than 200 passengers were on board when the ferry capsized and sank in deep water near Golapchipa, about 40km (25 miles) east of Patuakhali.
Bangladesh ferry
Scores die in overcrowded ferries in Bangladesh each year
One survivor, Oliul Islam, said: "The ferry was heavily loaded with passengers. At about a 1145 it tilted in bad weather and strong tides. And when panicked passengers rushed to the other side, the ferry went down."

The administrator, Mr Uddin, said he was unable to say exactly how many people were on board because the ferry had not been carrying a passenger list.

Correspondents say Bangladeshi ferries are notoriously unsafe and often overloaded.

The BBC's Waliur Rahman in Dhaka says accidents are often caused by a combination of rough weather and overcrowding by ferry owners eager to boost revenues.

Incomplete or non-existent lists make it difficult to ascertain passenger numbers.

According to official statistics, at least 3,000 people have been killed in ferry accidents since 1977.

In February, more than 100 people died when their vessel sank on the river Buriganga near Dhaka.