DHAKA, May 16 -- One day after an overloaded ferry capsized in the mighty Meghna River in Bangladesh's central Munshiganj district, the death toll has swelled to 28 as divers pulled more bodies from the sunken wreckage on Friday.
The ferry, carrying on board about 300 passengers on the Meghna River in Munshiganj, some 27 km southeast of capital Dhaka, sank in about 50-feet deep water at about 03:00 p.m. local time on Thursday after it was caught in storm.
"Divers recovered 16 bodies from inside the sunken vessel on Friday, which takes the number of total death toll from the tragic ferry capsizal to 28," Munshiganj Police Chief Zakir Hossain Majumder told Xinhua over phone.
The ferry -- MV Miraj-4 -- capsized in Meghna, one of the three rivers that forms the Ganges Delta, after it was hit by a nor' wester (known as a type of storm in Bangladesh).
Mazumder said a rescue vessel has been trying to drag the sunken ferry to the bank.
Officials said many passengers were able to swim ashore after the accident at about 3:00 p.m. local time on Thursday but could not tell even on Friday evening about the number of the missing passengers.
Estimates varied as to how many people were on board the ferry. Majumder put the number at close to 200, while another official who preferred to be unnamed had earlier told Xinhua that about 300 people were on board.
Officials said that telling the exact number of missing people was not possible for them as the ferry management didn't maintain a list of passenger. Ferry passengers in Bangladesh usually buy tickets once they are on board, they said.
A three-member committee has already been formed by relevant authorities to find out reasons behind the one of the worst ferry disasters in the country's recent history.
Hundreds of relatives of the ill-fated passengers on Friday gathered at the accident site adjoining river banks in the quest for missing persons.
They thronged to the river shore and wailed for the bodies of their near and dear ones. Some of them were searching the bodies of their relatives by hiring trawlers and boats as many bodies are feared to have floated away.
A pal of gloom, however, descended over people in Munshiganj and neighboring districts as most of the accident victims come from the region.
Some angry survivors blamed the ferry's captain and over- loading of the vessel for the accident.
Bangladesh's Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, however, claimed on Thursday that the ferry was not overloaded with passengers.
Boats and ferries are still commonly used as the key means of transportation in Bangladesh which is criss-crossed by about 250 rivers. However, the vessels are often overloaded or badly maintained, and accidents are commonplace.