Saturday 27 December 2014

Ferry rescue efforts criticised as 125 people 'presumed dead' following capsizing

Published 05/08/2014 | 13:06

Bangladeshi woman Munni, whose daughters are missing, cries as rescuers search the River Padma after a passenger ferry capsized in Munshiganj district, Bangladesh, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. A passenger ferry carrying hundreds of people capsized Monday in central Bangladesh, and at least 44 people either swam to safety or were rescued but the number of missing passengers is not yet known. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)
Bangladeshi woman Munni, whose daughters are missing, cries as rescuers search the River Padma after a passenger ferry capsized in Munshiganj district, Bangladesh, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. A passenger ferry carrying hundreds of people capsized Monday in central Bangladesh, and at least 44 people either swam to safety or were rescued but the number of missing passengers is not yet known. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)
People gather on the banks of the River Padma after a passenger ferry capsized in Munshiganj district, Bangladesh, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/ A.M. Ahad)
A Bangladeshi boy cries for his mother, missing after a ferry they were travelling in capsized in the River Padma in Munshiganj district, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)
A heavy lift offshore crane arrives for rescue work at the site of a ferry capsize in the River Padma in Munshiganj district, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)
Bangladeshi rescuers search the River Padma after a ferry capsize in Munshiganj district, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)

Families of scores of people presumed dead after their ferry capsized in central Bangladesh today accused authorities of launching a feeble rescue effort and leaving their loved ones trapped inside the vessel for more than 24 hours.

More than 200 people were believed to be on board the MV Pinak when it capsized yesterday

Shipping minister Shajahan Khan told reporters today that at least 125 were presumed dead and 110 others either swam to safety or were rescued after the accident.

Rescuers have not been able to locate the capsized ferry because of strong currents.

"Can't I expect the body of my sister? What are they doing? Nothing," said Monir Hossain, who travelled to the accident site to search for his sister.

Officials can only give estimates of the number of people on board because ferry operators in Bangladesh rarely keep passenger lists.

Rescuers were still trying today to locate the ferry using ropes, tug boats and speed boats while two big rescue vessels remained on shore near the accident site because of stormy weather.

Rescuers were also using sensor equipment to locate the ferry, which went under about 80ft of water, but strong currents were hampering their efforts, Mr Khan said.

"We are trying to bring another survey ship to locate the ferry," he said, adding that they needed the ship to arrive before trying to reach the capsized boat.

Dozens of relatives of the missing passengers briefly blocked a street near the site to protest.

They complained that authorities were not making enough efforts to bring the ferry out of the water.

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