30 missing after ferry capsizes in Bangladesh

Grieving families of the dead and missing gather at a river's edge after an overcrowded Bangladeshi ferry sinks, killing at least 10 people and leaving nearly a dozen others unaccounted for.

DHAKA (AFP) - An overcrowded ferry capsized and sank in southern Bangladesh on Wednesday (Sept 21), leaving around 30 people missing after the latest in a long series of river accidents in the country.

While some passengers managed to swim to shore, others were feared to have drowned in the River Sandhya shortly after the single-tier vessel set off from the town of Banaripara in Barisal district, police said.

"At least 30 people are still unaccounted for. No bodies have been found," Mohammad Akhteruzzaman, the police chief in Barisal, told AFP.

Another local police official said between 70 and 80 people were reported to have been travelling on the ferry and witnesses had reported it as being overcrowded.

The initial figures for the number of missing in Bangladeshi boat disasters are often revised downwards as details emerge of passengers who manage to swim to shore.

Boat accidents are common in Bangladesh, which is criss-crossed with some of the world's mightiest rivers including the Brahmaputra and the Padma, the main tributory of the Ganges.

Every year hundreds die as boats sink due to overcrowding and the poor condition of the craft.

A ferry accident in February last year left 69 people dead in central Bangladesh, just a fortnight after five others were killed when an overloaded ferry sank.