, DHAKA, May 13 – Up to 16 people are believed to have drowned in northeastern Bangladesh after an overloaded passenger ferry sank, police said Thursday after calling off search and rescue operations.
The ferry sank in Kishorganj district, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of the capital Dhaka, early Wednesday, local police chief Subrata Kumar Saha told AFP.
"We have found the bodies of seven children, two women and one man and six other passengers are still unaccounted for," Saha said, adding the vessel had been raised out of the water.
"We do not think any of the missing people will be found alive," he added.
The boat was carrying nearly 100 passengers, most of whom managed to swim to shore when the vessel, which was also heavily loaded with rice and cattle, began to sink.
Boat and ferry accidents due to lax safety standards and overloading are common in Bangladesh, which is criss-crossed by 230 rivers.
More than 3,000 people are estimated to have died in such accidents since 1977.