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At Least 12 Killed in Bangladesh Ferry Collision - 2004-02-05

Bangladesh authorities say a mid-river collision between two ferries has killed at least a dozen people.

Officials say they fear many passengers are still trapped inside the damaged vessels and that the death toll could rise.

The river channel at the site of the accident is not very wide, and officials say many of the passengers may have made it to shore.

The accident happened early Thursday, in the Meghna river near the southern coastal town of Barisal.

Officials say they do not know the exact number of people aboard the two vessels, which news reports say were packed with people returning to work after the three-day Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. Some reports say there were as many as 500 people on each boat.

Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh - a country criss-crossed by more than 200 rivers. Industry experts say the accidents are the result of overloading, lack of proper maintenance and poor enforcement of safety regulations.