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Ferry Sinks in Bangladesh; 600 Missing

July 9, 2003

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ A ferry capsized Wednesday in a confluence of three rivers in southern Bangladesh and rescue officials said about 600 people were missing and feared dead.

The triple-deck ferry carrying at least 750 people was traveling from Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, to southern Bhola district when it sank late Tuesday near Chandpur town, 40 miles south of Dhaka, said Manzoor-e-Elahi, the area’s government administrator.

About 150 people either swam to shore or were rescued by local fishermen, he said.

Survivors said the ferry, MV Nasrin-2, careened in the turbulent waters where the Padma, Meghna and Dakatia rivers meet while it approached the Chandpur ferry terminal. It sank as many passengers were either asleep or were preparing beds.

No bodies have so far been found.

The crowded ferry also was loaded with a cargo of rice and vegetables, said one of the survivors Anwar Hossain.

Elahi said police and local residents were using boats to try to find more survivors.

Heavy monsoon rains have swollen many rivers in Bangladesh.

Ferry accidents claim hundreds of lives every year in the delta nation of 130 million people.

The boating accidents, often blamed on overloading, faulty construction and disregard for safety measures, caused Bangladesh officials to ban night travel by ferries. But that ban was lifted in April following protests by boat operators.

In return for the lifting of the ban, ferry owners promised not to operate their vessels in inclement weather and to follow safety regulations.

Two river ferries went down on April 21 in separate accidents near Dhaka, killing more than 135 people.

Update hourly