The death toll in yesterday’s ferry collision on the Meghna river had risen to 122 as of noon today. Rescuers say the count is likely to rise further. Villagers pulled ashore some bodies floating in the river near the accident. Rescuers have pulled the sunken ferry to shallower water close to the shore and said they have finished searching for bodies inside the ferry. The MV Shariatpur-1 capsized early yesterday after being hit by a cargo boat south of the capital. Around 30 passengers were rescued after the accident with help from a second ferry, the MV Mitali, and another 40 passengers swam to safety. “The river is very deep [21-24 meters) so rescuers are having difficulties recovering bodies and raising the sunken ferry,” said Yahiya Ali Sikder, head of the rescue team. He said there were around 150 passengers on board with tickets and at least 50 more without tickets. “This means there could be as many as another hundred people in the ferry,” he said. “We have handed over 31 bodies to families so far,” said Mahfujul Haq, a local magistrate. Many anxious friends and relatives of missing passengers had gathered along the river bank yesterday hoping to hear news about loved ones. One man said five members of his family had been on the ferry. Shipping minister Shahjahan Khan, who was yesterday visiting the scene of the tragedy, said an investigation was already under way. He said the family of each victim will get 30,000 taka (US$ 360) in compensation and those who lost more than one family member will get 45,000 (US$ 536). District police chief Mohammad Shahabuddin Khan said authorities are trying to identify the other vessel involved in the collision. Accidents are common along Bangladesh’s extensive river network and scores are killed each year.
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