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Death Toll in Bangladesh Ferry Disaster Nears 300

In Bangladesh, officials say the death toll from Friday's ferry disaster is nearing 300. Authorities have launched an investigation into what caused the disaster, but survivors say the ferry was severely overloaded.

Three days after the triple-decker ferry, MV Salahuddin, sank in a sudden storm on the Meghna River, there is still confusion over how many people drowned in the disaster.

Salvage crews who recovered the vessel from the river bottom say it was filled with bodies.

There was no passenger list, so the exact number of people traveling on the ferry may never be known. Survivors say there were more than 300 people on board. They say many people were swept away in the fast moving current when the ferry capsized. About 100 people are believed to have survived.

The bad weather that helped to cause the disaster has also hampered salvage and rescue operations, and is delaying the burial of many victims.

The ferry was enroute from Dhaka to the southern city of Patuakhili when it sank 170 kilometers south of the capital.

Since the disaster, thousands of relatives of those on board have converged on the site. Rescue workers are quoted as saying bodies have been washing up along the river bank for several days.

Government officials say they issued a storm warning hours before the disaster, but that the ferry crew ignored the notice.

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has appointed a three-person investigating committee to examine what caused the disaster. Officials say it is one of the worst in many years in Bangladesh - a country plagued by ferry accidents.