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At Least 60 Dead in Bangladesh Ferry Accident


In Bangladesh, at least 60 people are feared drowned after a ferry capsized. At least 25 passengers have survived the accident. The latest incident comes just three weeks after a ferry catastrophe killed hundreds of people.

Officials said the ferry sank when it was hit by a late night storm in the Baleswar river, about 180 kilometers south of Dhaka in southern Bangladesh. It was travelling from Pirojepur district to the industrial district of Khulna.

A police spokesman said about a 100 people were on the boat when it sank. Several people managed to swim to safety.

A search and rescue operation was launched for the missing passengers early Friday. Local fishermen have joined the operation to locate survivors.

The latest accident comes three weeks after more than 400 people died when an overcrowded, double-decker ferry went down in the Meghna river - also in a midnight storm.

Following that accident, authorities came under severe criticism for failing to do enough to prevent ferry accidents, and there were widespread calls for improving the safety standards of river transport.

Ferries are a popular form of transportation in Bangladesh - an estimated 3,000 ferries ply the hundreds of rivers that criss-cross the flat, delta nation. According to official statistics, about 250 ferry accidents in the past 25 years have resulted in more than 2,000 deaths. The accidents have been blamed on overcrowding, poor design of boats and unskilled skippers. Navigation laws and regulations are seldom enforced.

Officials also accuse ferry owners of often ignoring storm warnings, and travelling in hazardous weather conditions.

Many of Bangladesh's ferry accidents have occurred at this time of the year, when tropical storms hit the country.

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