139 dead, more missing in Bangladesh ferry sinking

March 15, 2012 - 10:46 AM
APTOPIX Bangladesh Ferry Accident

A Bangladeshi man reacts, shouting "My mother, my mother", as he sees the body of his mother being recovered from the site of a ferry that capsized in the Meghna River in Munshiganj district, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, March 14, 2012. The ferry, carrying about 200 people, collided with a cargo boat and capsized in the darkness of Tuesday morning, sending hundreds of people into the Meghna River, just south of the capital, Dhaka, with more than half the people aboard, perishing in the accident. (AP Photo/Pavel Rahman)

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Police and villagers Thursday found more bodies in a Bangladesh river where a packed ferry capsized earlier this week, raising the death toll to 139.

Decomposing bodies surfaced after the double-deck ferry was salvaged and the rescue operation was called off, local police chief Mohammad Shahabuddin Khan said. Rescuers had recovered 112 bodies Tuesday and Wednesday. Another 27 bodies were found floating in the water Thursday.

Local media, quoting relatives, said more than a dozen people were still unaccounted for.

The ferry carrying over 200 people collided with a cargo boat and sank early Tuesday, sending scores of people into the Meghna River, just south of Dhaka. Khan said about 35 were rescued, and local media reported another 40 swam shore.

Hundreds of anxious people, many weeping, were at the scene looking for their loved ones.

Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation crisscrossed by more than 230 rivers. They are often blamed on overcrowding, faulty vessels and lax rules.

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Associated Press writer Julhas Alam contributed to this report.