At least 39 people died in Bangladesh on Sunday when a passenger ferry capsized 44 miles west of the capital, Dhaka, after colliding with a trawler on the Padma river with more than 100 people aboard.
Rescuers managed to save at least 50 passengers and were still searching for more survivors, regional police official Bidhan Tripura said.
The low-lying country, which has extensive inland waterways and a poor safety record, suffers regular ferry disasters, often with significant loss of life.
“The ferry capsized as it was hit by a cargo vessel,” Tripura said, adding that police had arrested two of its crew.
Of the 39 bodies retrieved so far from the water, more than half of them women and children, Tripura said.
A police team assisted by firemen and the country’s inland water transport authority, was trying to salvage the ferry, he said.
The ferry was heading to Paturia from Daulatdia in Rajbari, on the opposite bank of the river.
A similar accident on 13 February killed at least seven passengers in southern Bangladesh.
Shajahan Khan, the shipping minister, told reporters at the scene that an investigation had been launched.
“A probe committee has been formed and they have been directed to find out the real cause of this sad incident within seven days,” he said.