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Bangladesh ferry capsizes, 100 unaccounted for

By Serajul Quadir

DHAKA (Reuters) - A ferry with about 200 passengers on board capsized in Bangladesh on Monday in a river southwest of the capital, Dhaka, and about 100 people were unaccounted for, the chief of the district administration said.

Low-lying Bangladesh, with extensive inland waterways and slack safety standards, has an appalling record of ferry accidents, with casualties sometimes running into the hundreds. Overcrowding is a common factor in many of the accidents and each time there is an accident the government vows to toughen regulations.

Mohammad Saiful Hasan Badal, deputy commissioner of Munshiganj district, said about 100 passengers had been rescued from the vessel after it went down in the Padma river.

Two women had been taken to hospital and died and the remainder of those on board were unaccounted for, he said. There was a possibility some had swum to the riverbank

"Most of the passengers were coming back to the city after celebrating Eid al-Fitr," Saiful told Reuters, referring to the festival marking the end of the Ramadan fasting month.

Teams from the Inland Water Transport Authority, fire brigade and the army were helping with the rescue about 30 km (18 miles) southwest of Dhaka.

The stretch of river where the ferry sank was deep and the weather was bad meaning there was no sign of the boat under the choppy water.

Survivor Mohammad Suman told Reuters two of his brothers and a sister were missing.

"We were five altogether and I and another survived by jumping from the ferry," he said.

In March 2012, a ferry sank near the same spot, killing at least 145 people.

(Reporting By Serajul Quadir; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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