Rescuers have retrieved 32 bodies, including at least 12 children, and are searching for scores of people missing after an overcrowded ferry sank in a river along the Bangladesh coast, police and witnesses said on Saturday.
They said the ferry M.V. Coco-4 was sailing to the coastal town of Bhola, some 300 km (185 miles) from Dhaka, on Friday night with around 1,500 people on board -- about three times the number it was registered to carry.
The death toll late on Friday had been put at five.
Many of those on board were going home to celebrate the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival on Saturday, Reuters informs.
"The ferry was overcrowded with over 1,000 passengers," local police chief Zakir Hossain told AFP. Most of the passengers managed to swim ashore or were rescued, but others were trapped underwater.
"It's impossible at the moment to say how many are missing," district administrator Islam said. Some of those rescued were in critical condition in hospital.
The vessel "tilted and part of it sank due to the pressure of the crowd" as it came near the shore, police chief Hossain said.
Divers had rescued more than 100 people from the submerged part of the vessel, managing to prise open lower cabins, Islam said. Rescue operations were resumed after being suspended for several hours because of fuel leaking from the vessel, according to AFP.
According to Sify, police earlier had quoted survivors as saying a loud noise on the bottom deck triggered the stampede. Local member of parliament Abdullah Al Islam said authorities were sending a salvage vessel to bring the boat to shore. "Until we can lift the sunken side, we can't know how many were trapped," he said.
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