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Ferry tragedy in Bangladesh due to suspected overcrowding

Dhaka: Some 75 bodies have now been recovered after a crowded ferry capsized in southern Bangladesh as it came into dock at the town of Nazirhat on Friday night. As many as 45 more are reported still missing. The m.v. Coco was travelling from the capital Dhaka and was crowded with passengers travelling home for a religious festival.

"We have ordered a probe," shipping minister Shahjahan Khan said. "Our initial finding was that the ferry was heavily overloaded." Unconfirmed television reports in Bangladesh say as many as 1,500 passengers were aboard, some 50% more than the vessel's permitted safe limit.

The Bangladeshi ferry industry is notoriously prone to accidents, one reason why a pilot project to improve ferry safety in developing countries, jointly run by the Interferry association and the International Maritime Organization, is currently being trialled there.  [02/12/09]

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