Bangladesh ferry disaster death toll hits 34

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A ferry packed with around 50 passengers sank in Bangladesh's Shitalakshya river when it collided with a cargo vessel on Sunday

The death toll from a ferry accident in Bangladesh at the weekend rose to at least 34 after six more bodies were retrieved, officials said Tuesday.

The ferry packed with around 50 passengers heading home from the central city of Narayanganj ahead of an impending coronavirus lockdown had collided with a larger cargo vessel late on Sunday.

Authorities called off a search-and-rescue mission on Monday after salvaging the ship from the heavily polluted Shitalakshya river and recovering 22 bodies.

But under pressure from relatives of people still missing, rescuers late Monday resumed operations with helicopters to scour the murky waters for any more bodies.

"Based on the relatives' account, at least two people are still missing," local official Mustain Billah told AFP.

Under Bangladesh's seven-day lockdown in response to surging Covid cases, all domestic travel services were suspended on Monday and shops and malls were shut.

Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, a delta nation crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers.

Experts blame poor maintenance, lax safety standards at shipyards and overcrowding for many of the accidents.

In June last year, a ferry sank in Dhaka after it was hit from behind by another ferry, killing at least 32 people.

In February 2015, at least 78 people died when an overcrowded ship collided with a cargo boat in a central Bangladesh river.

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