Sixteen people including a baby are confirmed dead and rescuers are still searching for missing passengers after a ferry collided with a cargo ship and sank in a Bangladesh river.
It was the second deadly boat accident in less than a fortnight in the country, which has a history of ferry tragedies.
Rescue workers had recovered 16 bodies including an infant and two women, local administrator Rashida Ferdous told AFP.
She said a salvage vessel was on its way to raise the sunken vessel, adding that the master of the cargo ship and two other crew had been arrested.
Survivors said the twin-deck MV Mostofa was carrying between 70-150 passengers when it capsized in the middle of the Padma river on Sunday, local police chief Rakibuz Zaman told AFP.
“Some 50 people swam ashore or were rescued by other vessels,” he added.
The vessel was reportedly heading to the town of Paturia in Manikganj district, some 70km from the capital Dhaka, from Rajbari district.
Local newspaper Prothom Alo quoted one survivor, Hafizur Rahman, as saying the cargo ship hit the boat 15 minutes after departure – causing it to overturn and trapping many passengers.
“I was on the deck of the ferry and fell into the river. Those who were on the deck were able to come out but none of the passengers inside could get out,” Rahman said.
Bangladeshi ferries do not normally keep passenger lists, making it difficult to establish how many are missing after an accident.
The Padma river is one of the largest in the delta nation. Boats are the main form of travel in many of Bangladesh’s remote rural areas, especially in the south and northeast.
Earlier this month at least five people were killed when an overloaded ferry carrying some 200 passengers capsized in an estuary in the south of the country.