Bangladesh's shipping minister announces capsized ferry death toll

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Bangladesh's shipping minister announces capsized ferry death toll
Bangladeshi onlookers gather on the banks near the scene where an overloaded ferry capsized in the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. Rescuers in Bangladesh searched August for the wreckage of a heavily overloaded river ferry that sank, amid growing anger among relatives of nearly 120 people still missing. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bangladeshi onlookers gather on the banks near the scene where an overloaded ferry capsized in the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. Rescuers in Bangladesh searched August for the wreckage of a heavily overloaded river ferry that sank, amid growing anger among relatives of nearly 120 people still missing. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bangladeshis mourn for their missing relatives after an overloaded ferry capsized the day before in the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. The ferry carrying up to 200 passengers sank on August 4 in tough conditions on a river in central Bangladesh. Emergency workers said around 100 survivors and two dead bodies had been pulled out of the river, but the rest remain unaccounted for. AFP PHOTO / Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A Bangladeshi youth (L) mourns for his mother after an overloaded ferry capsized the day before in the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. The ferry carrying up to 200 passengers sank on August 4 in tough conditions on a river in central Bangladesh. Emergency workers said around 100 survivors and two dead bodies had been pulled out of the river, but the rest remain unaccounted for. AFP PHOTO / Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bangladeshi onlookers gather near the site where an overloaded ferry capsized in the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. Rescuers in Bangladesh searched for the wreckage of a heavily overloaded river ferry that sank, amid growing anger among relatives of nearly 120 people still missing. The ferry was packed with people returning home from Eid celebrations when it went down in rough conditions around 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka on August 4, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bangladeshi onlookers watch from a ferry near the site where an overloaded ferry capsized in the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. Rescuers in Bangladesh searched for the wreckage of a heavily overloaded river ferry that sank, amid growing anger among relatives of nearly 120 people still missing. The ferry was packed with people returning home from Eid celebrations when it went down in rough conditions around 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka on August 4, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A Bangladeshi relative uses her mobile phone as she mourns for her missing relatives after an overloaded ferry capsized the day before in the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. The ferry carrying up to 200 passengers sank on August 4 in tough conditions on a river in central Bangladesh. Emergency workers said around 100 survivors and two dead bodies had been pulled out of the river, but the rest remain unaccounted for. AFP PHOTO / Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bangladeshi rescue workers search the site where an overloaded ferry capsized in the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. Rescuers in Bangladesh searched for the wreckage of a heavily overloaded river ferry that sank, amid growing anger among relatives of nearly 120 people still missing. The ferry was packed with people returning home from Eid celebrations when it went down in rough conditions around 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka on August 4, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A Bangladeshi youth mourns for his mother after an overloaded ferry capsized the day before in the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. The ferry carrying up to 200 passengers sank on August 4 in tough conditions on a river in central Bangladesh. Emergency workers said around 100 survivors and two dead bodies had been pulled out of the river, but the rest remain unaccounted for. AFP PHOTO / Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bangladeshi rescue teams search the waters where an overloaded ferry capsized the day before in the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. The ferry carrying up to 200 passengers sank on August 4 in tough conditions on a river in central Bangladesh. Emergency workers said around 100 survivors and two dead bodies had been pulled out of the river, but the rest remain unaccounted for. AFP PHOTO / Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A Bangladeshi resident whose brother is missing after a ferry capsize weeps as she speaks on the phone near the scene at the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. Rescuers in Bangladesh searched for the wreckage of a heavily overloaded river ferry that sank, amid growing anger among relatives of nearly 120 people still missing. The ferry was packed with people returning home from Eid celebrations when it went down in rough conditions around 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka on August 4, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Large cranes are visible as Bangladeshi rescue teams search the waters where an overloaded ferry capsized the day before in the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. The ferry carrying up to 200 passengers sank on August 4 in tough conditions on a river in central Bangladesh. Emergency workers said around 100 survivors and two dead bodies had been pulled out of the river, but the rest remain unaccounted for. AFP PHOTO / Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bangladeshis mourn for their missing relatives after an overloaded ferry capsized the day before in the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. The ferry carrying up to 200 passengers sank on August 4 in tough conditions on a river in central Bangladesh. Emergency workers said around 100 survivors and two dead bodies had been pulled out of the river, but the rest remain unaccounted for. AFP PHOTO / Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A Bangladeshi resident whose relative is missing after a ferry capsize weeps near the scene at the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. Rescuers in Bangladesh searched for the wreckage of a heavily overloaded river ferry that sank, amid growing anger among relatives of nearly 120 people still missing. The ferry was packed with people returning home from Eid celebrations when it went down in rough conditions around 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka on August 4, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A Bangladeshi resident whose relative is missing after a ferry capsize weeps near the scene at the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. Rescuers in Bangladesh searched for the wreckage of a heavily overloaded river ferry that sank, amid growing anger among relatives of nearly 120 people still missing. The ferry was packed with people returning home from Eid celebrations when it went down in rough conditions around 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka on August 4, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A Bangladeshi resident whose brother is missing after a ferry capsize weeps near the scene at the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. Rescuers in Bangladesh searched for the wreckage of a heavily overloaded river ferry that sank, amid growing anger among relatives of nearly 120 people still missing. The ferry was packed with people returning home from Eid celebrations when it went down in rough conditions around 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka on August 4, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bangladeshis mourn for their missing relatives after an overloaded ferry capsized the day before in the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. The ferry carrying up to 200 passengers sank on August 4 in tough conditions on a river in central Bangladesh. Emergency workers said around 100 survivors and two dead bodies had been pulled out of the river, but the rest remain unaccounted for. AFP PHOTO / Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bangladeshis mourn for their missing relatives after an overloaded ferry capsized the day before in the Padma river in Munshiganj, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the capital Dhaka, on August 5, 2014. The ferry carrying up to 200 passengers sank on August 4 in tough conditions on a river in central Bangladesh. Emergency workers said around 100 survivors and two dead bodies had been pulled out of the river, but the rest remain unaccounted for. AFP PHOTO / Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) - Bangladesh's shipping minister says at least 125 people are presumed dead after a ferry capsized central Bangladesh.

Shajahan Khan told reporters Tuesday that at least 110 people either swam to safety or were rescued.

It is estimated that more than 200 people were on board the M.V. Pinak when it went down Monday morning. Ferry operators in Bangladesh rarely maintain passenger lists.

Earlier AP reporting below:


By AL-EMRUN GARJON

LOUHAJONG, Bangladesh (AP) - High waves and strong currents prevented rescuers from launching a search operation Tuesday for a ferry that capsized a day earlier in central Bangladesh, leaving hundreds of passengers trapped inside and feared dead.

It was unclear exactly how many people were on board the M.V. Pinak because ferry operators in Bangladesh rarely maintain passenger lists. Authorities and survivors estimated there were about 250-300 passengers, but the figure could not be confirmed.

At least 44 passengers swam to safety after the ferry went down Monday morning, but authorities still have not launched a formal rescue operation because of choppy conditions in the Padma River, said Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan.

In the hours after the ferry capsized, local residents in fishing trawlers and speedboats tried to reach the site but had to turn back.

A salvage ship was ready to head out once conditions improved, Khan said.

On Monday, local residents and rescuers recovered two bodies from the water, but many more were believed to be trapped inside the ferry. Many of the passengers aboard the vessel were returning from ancestral villages after celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

Scores of people die in ferry accidents every year in Bangladesh, where boats are a common form of transportation. The Padma is one of the largest rivers in the delta nation, which is crisscrossed by more than 130 rivers.

Poor safety standards and overcrowding are often blamed for the accidents. In May, about 50 people died in a ferry accident in the same district.

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Bangladesh Ferry Capsizes with 200 Passengers Aboard
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