VILLAGERS ALONG A Bangladesh river where a packed ferry capsized earlier this week found five more bodies floating in the water today, bringing the death toll from the disaster to 117.
The decomposing bodies surfaced near the scene of the accident hours after the double-deck ferry was salvaged and the rescue operation was called off, local police chief Mohammad Shahabuddin Khan said. Rescuers recovered 112 bodies from inside the sunken boat Tuesday and Wednesday.
At least another 12 people were still listed missing, the area’s government administrator Azizul Alam said. Local media, quoting relatives, put the number of missing higher.
The ferry carrying about 200 people collided with a cargo boat and sank early Tuesday, sending scores of people into the Meghna River, just south of Dhaka. Khan said about 35 survivors were plucked from the water, while local media reported that another 40 managed to swim to shore.
Hundreds of anxious people, many of them weeping, gathered near the scene of the accident to look for their loved ones. Some were angry, saying they blamed local authorities for the slow pace of the rescue operation.
Parul, who goes by one name, said she had been waiting at the shore since Tuesday night for news of her newly married brother, who was returning on the ferry with 16 others from his wedding party.
‘I want to see their faces’
She said only four had apparently survived. Two bodies had been recovered, but the bridegroom and others were still missing.
“Bring my brother back. Give them all back,” Parul wailed as she beat her chest. “I want to see their faces. Please take me to them.”
Rescue workers and divers called off the search late Wednesday after raising the wreckage, but police planned to stay in the area.
“There are no more bodies inside the ferry but police will remain deployed to check if there are any more bodies around,” Khan said.
Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation crisscrossed by more than 230 rivers. They are often blamed on overcrowding, faulty vessels and lax rules. In 2009, about 150 people died in three ferry accidents.
The MV Shariatpur-1 was traveling to Dhaka from Shariatpur district to the southwest. The accident occurred in Munshiganj district, about 32 kilometres south of Dhaka.