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Owner of sunken ferry arrested in Bangladesh

August 13, 2014

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — The owner of a Bangladesh ferry that sank earlier this month with more than 100 people dead or missing was arrested Wednesday after weeks in hiding, officials said.

Forces from the anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion raided a house in the southeastern district of Chittagong, where the suspect Abu Bakar Siddique had been hiding since the overloaded ferry M.V. Pinak sank on Aug. 4, said commander Lt. Col. Miftah Uddin Ahmed.

Siddique faces charges of culpable homicide, unauthorized operation and overloading. Forty-eight bodies have been recovered so far and about 60 others remain missing and are presumed dead. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

The ferry had a capacity of 85 passengers but was carrying more than 200 when it capsized in Munshiganj district near the capital, Dhaka. Many of the passengers were returning from their villages after celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

The vessel’s captain and four others are also facing similar charges and are on the run too.

Authorities on Monday called off the search for the sunken ferry after scouring more than 50 square kilometers (about 20 square miles) of the Padma river without success. Bad weather and strong currents hampered the operation.

The Padma is one of the largest rivers in the delta nation, which is crisscrossed by more than 130 rivers.

Overcrowding and poor safety standards are often blamed for ferry disasters. In May, about 50 people died when a ferry sank in the same district.