More than 100 feared dead in Bangladesh ferry accident
Bangladesh authorities said they feared at least 100 people drowned after a ferry capsized in a remote southern area as strong currents and heavy winds hampered efforts to locate the sunken ship.
Six people were confirmed dead, but officials fear many more bodies were washed away in stormy weather or were still trapped in the sunken ferry.
The ferry, carrying villagers to a weekly market, had a capacity of 80 people, but was likely to have had at least double that number on board, officials said on Monday.
The ferry went down on Sunday morning in high winds and strong currents on the Char Kazal river near Galachipa, about 250 kilometers (150 miles) south of Dhaka.
Among the dead were two men who swam to the shore but died soon after. Uddin said it was unlikely that any passengers managed to save themselves as the river was very wide at the point where the boat sank.
Divers arrived late Sunday at the scene, close to the mouth of the Bay of Bengal, and a salvage vessel was due to reach the area by mid-morning on Monday, Uddin added.
"The divers have not yet been able to locate the ferry because it is extremely difficult to dive in such strong currents," Shafiqul Islam, the district police chief told AFP.
"Some call this river Agunmukho river, or 'Mouth of the Fire' river, because its currents are famous for being so fierce all year round," he added.
Islam said only six bodies had been found, although different media put the number recovered at between six to 32.
"So far six people are dead but we've instructed the police stations downstream to keep watch for more bodies."
"Officers are scouring the river with the help of local people and fishermen," he said.
The ship, the 'Prince of Patuakhali', was named after the main town in the southern district where the accident happened.
It capsized in the middle of the river where the depth is about 80 feet (26 metres) and the current is at its strongest.
Ferry accidents due to overloading and poor design claim many lives each year in Bangladesh. In February, 150 people were killed when a ferry capsized in a cyclone near Dhaka.
At least 3,000 people have died in more than 260 ferry accidents in Bangladesh since 1977.
After February's tragedy, Shipping Minister Akbar Hossain pledged immediate action to reduce the number of lives being lost.
He said previously announced measures such as modernisation of old ferries, extra checks to ensure safety certificates are up to date and monitoring to prevent overloading would be implemented straight away.
In March, the Bangladesh parliament also enacted a new law making it possible for the first time to prosecute negligent ferry owners.
The delta nation is criss-crossed by a network of more than 230 rivers and about 3,000 ferries provide daily transport for more than 100,000 people.