At Least 32 Dead, Dozens Missing After Ferry Capisizes in Bangladesh

A ferry carrying 200 people capsizes in southern Bangladesh after colliding with an oil tanker. (Photo: CTV)

A ferry carrying 200 people capsizes in southern Bangladesh after colliding with an oil tanker. (Photo: CTV)

At least 32 people are dead and dozens of others missing after a ferry accident in southern Bangladesh on Tuesday. The ship was carrying about 200 passengers and capsized in a river southwest of Dhaka after colliding with an oil tanker.

Some 50 people swam to safety, but for many the ship’s rapid descent 70 feet into the water proved too difficult. One survivor told the BBC the collision nearly caused the ship to turn upside down.

Rescue efforts on the Meghna River, 20 miles south of the nation’s capital, continued overnight. Hundreds of locals reportedly joined the operation, as despairing relatives looked on.

But ferry accidents are not uncommon in river-heavy Bangladesh, where multitudes are killed every year in similar incidents. Ships are notorious for overcrowding and poor safety regulations, and Tuesday’s accident was no exception.

According to the BBC report, rescued passengers said the vessel was overcrowded and carrying dozens of sacks of chillies. Bangladeshi authorities fear a number of bodies could still be stuck inside the ferry, but because passenger lists are rarely compiled in the region, the exact number of passengers aboard the Shariatpur-1 is unknown.

Rural parts of Bangladesh are dependent on water transportation to navigate the country’s abundance of rivers and waterways. A full investigation has been launched to determine the cause of Tuesday’s disaster.

For more photos of the wreckage, visit TIME’s Global Spin.

Sabrina Siddiqui is the editor-in-chief of Divanee.com.

@sabrinasiddiqui