At least 30 bodies have been recovered with some dozens still missing after a ferry capsized in the Buriganga river which runs through southwest Dhaka. Officials were unable to confirm the number of passengers on board at the time of the accident.

Rescue workers search for victims after a ferry capsized at the Sadarghat ferry terminal in Dhaka on June 29, 2020.
Rescue workers search for victims after a ferry capsized at the Sadarghat ferry terminal in Dhaka on June 29, 2020. (AFP)

A ferry accident in Dhaka, Bangladesh has left at least 30 people dead, with some dozens missing.

The Morning Bird vessel was hit from behind by another ferry around 0330 GMT (9:30 am local time) during the morning rush hour, when the country's largest river port is packed with vessels.

"We have collected 30 bodies, including 20 males, seven women and three children," Abul Khair, a diver in the fire brigade, said.

"There were at least 50 people on board... Our rescue divers are still searching," coastguard spokesman commander Hayet Ibne Siddique said. Police officials placed the ferry's passenger list at 60 people. Other rescue officials said at least 100 people were on the ferry when it capsized.

The ferry – which departed from central Munshiganj district – sank as it was about to moor at Sadarghat, Dhaka's main river port used by hundreds of boats to travel to the country's south.

The second ferry left the scene after the accident, Rozina Islam, a fire department official, said.

'Carelessness'

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority's chief, Commodore Golam Sadeqk, said the single-deck ship was "not overcrowded" and sank "due to carelessness".

He said the vessel had been cleared to carry passengers until September.

Witnesses told local television stations many passengers appeared to be stuck in the ferry's cabins.

Divers were still pulling bodies from the wreck, in waters some 12-15 metres (40-50 feet) deep. The deceased were put in body-bags before they were laid in rows at the harbour-front.

Another boat would later arrive to lift the damaged vessel from the water, Siddique said.

Searching for loved ones

Relatives gathered at Sadarghat despite coronavirus social distancing concerns to search for their family.

"I still don't know what happened to them," a man, searching for his cousin and another relative, told reporters.

Boat accidents are common in Bangladesh, which is crisscrossed by more than 230 rivers.

Poor safety standards

The South Asian nation is heavily reliant on ferries for transport but has had a poor safety record.

Experts blame badly maintained vessels, lax safety standards at shipyards and overcrowding for many of the accidents.

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

The number of accidents has dropped sharply in recent years as authorities crack down on unseaworthy vessels.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies