February 13, 2015 / 10:36 AM / in 3 years

Bangladesh ferry capsizes with 200 aboard; police retrieve five bodies

DHAKA (Reuters) - Rescuers pulled five bodies from the water and launched a search for survivors among the 200 passengers on an overloaded ferry that capsized on Friday in a river in Bangladesh, police said.

Low-lying Bangladesh, with extensive inland waterways and slack safety standards, regularly has major ferry disasters, with deaths sometimes running into the hundreds.

“Most of the passengers were able to swim ashore,” said Babul Akhter, an official at Taltoli police station in Barguna district.

The ferry sank on the nearby Paira river, 300 km (186 miles) south of the capital Dhaka.

Coastguard staff have been searching for bodies along with local rescuers, Akhter said.

Most of those on board had been traveling from the coastal town of Kuakata to a religious gathering at Barguna.

“Cracks developed as the boat was overloaded, and ultimately it capsized,” Akhter added.

The district administration distributed 5,000 taka ($60) to the relatives of each of those killed.

Last August, Bangladesh arrested the owner of a ferry that sank in a river, killing about 110 people. It was the first time such action had been taken in the country.

Reporting by Serajul Quadir; Editing by Andrew Roche

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