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41 dead in Bangladesh ferry disaster

world Updated: May 13, 2008 16:35 IST

Rescue workers grimly searched a river for bodies today after Bangladesh's latest ferry disaster claimed at least 41 lives, a police official said.

Fire service divers were battling strong currents to reach the MV Nazimuddin, which sank on the Ghorautra river at a remote spot in the northeast on Monday afternoon.

Around 2,000 people including many distraught relatives of dead or missing passengers had also gathered on the river bank.

Survivor Badal Chandra Saha, 42, said the ferry went down in seconds.

"When the storm started, everyone was afraid and came up onto the roof, but within the blink of an eye it capsized. I swam to the shore but the current was very strong," he said.

Kishoreganj district police chief Mizanur Rahman told AFP 41 bodies had been recovered but that divers expected more to be found inside the wreckage.

The two-deck ferry, thought to have been carrying about 100 people, was lying in about 10.5 metres (35 feet) of water. Some 50 passengers on board were believed to have swum to safety.

"Many people have gathered on the banks of the river. Many of them are wailing for their dead or missing and coming to us to say their relative is not found," added Rahman.

He said the divers had arrived in the early hours but were forced to wait until first light to begin the search of the sunken vessel.

"The divers tried to rescue the dead bodies at night by using search lights. But it was very tough for them because of the strong current and darkness and there is no electricity in this area," he said.