Hundreds missing as rescuers search for wreck of ferry
Hopes of finding more survivors from a Bangladesh ferry disaster were fading Thursday, with hundreds feared drowned as strong currents hampered efforts to locate the wreck of the capsized boat.india Updated: Jul 10, 2003 11:59 IST
Hopes of finding more survivors from a Bangladesh ferry disaster were fading Thursday, with hundreds feared drowned as strong currents hampered efforts to locate the wreck of the capsized boat.
Rescue teams worked through the night in an attempt to find survivors from the MV Nasrin-1, which sank with hundreds of passengers shortly before midnight Tuesday (1800 GMT).
So far only three deaths have been confirmed but local media reports have said several hundred people were on board when the vessel was sucked under monsoon-swollen waters on the Meghna river near Chandpur town.
The exact number of passengers on the boat when it sank will probably never be known as Bagladeshi ferries rarely have passenger lists or issue tickets.
Officials earlier said the boat -- which has an official capacity of 429 passengers -- was "definitely overcrowded."
Rescue efforts were focusing on locating the wreck of the ferry, officials said.
"We have strengthened the search and rescue mission early Thursday after a night vigil by police, coastguards, naval divers and local boat operators failed to locate the sunken vessel or find any survivors or their bodies," district civil chief Abdur Rab Hawlader told AFP.
Hawlader said strong currents and the depth of the river had rendered salvage efforts futile.
The district chief said no more survivors or bodies were found overnight from the site of the vast waterways where the overcrowded ferry went down near this southeastern Bangladesh town.
One of the injured survivors died Wednesday in a local hospital where several others were under treatment, Dhaka's top river transport official, Abul Hossain Chowdhury said. He said more than 200 passengers had been rescued.
Television networks reported that two bodies believed to be of ferry victims were found floating downstream on the river, although police did not immediately have confirmation.
There remained deep confusion over the number of missing. State-run Bangladesh Television initially reported there were 800 people on board but later revised the figure, saying there were 400 passengers of whom 220 were rescued or swam to safety.
Dhaka's mass-circulation Ittefaq daily Thursday speculated up to 1,000 people might have perished in the latest river tragedy and that the killer ferry might be left buried underwater undetected.
The ferry was believed to be lying some 60 metres (200 feet) underwater about 43 kilometres (27 miles) southeast of the capital Dhaka.
Initial investigations suggested the accident happened after one of the two engines stopped which left the vessel out of control, Chowdhury said.
It sank at the confluence of three rivers: the Meghna, Padma and Dakatia, a dangerous point for ferry operation during the monsoon.
Prime Minister Khaleda Zia set up a three-member team to investigate the latest ferry accident in Bangladesh, asking for a report within a week, officials said.
Since 1977, some 260 ferry accidents have claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people in Bangladesh.
First Published: Jul 10, 2003 11:59 IST