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125 presumed dead in Bangladesh ferry sinking

125 presumed dead in Bangladesh ferry sinking
Bangladeshis mourn for missing relatives after an overloaded ferry capsized in the Padma river in Munshiganj, about 20 miles south of the capital, Dhaka. (Munir Uz Zaman / AFP/Getty Images)

Emergency crews searching for survivors of a ferry that sank Monday in central Bangladesh while carrying more than 200 passengers were hampered by a strong current in the Padma River, officials said.

At least two bodies were recovered and 60 passengers rescued after the vessel Pinak-6 went down about 11:30 a.m. local time. Bangladesh's shipping minister told the Associated Press on Tuesday morning that at least 125 people were presumed dead, and that at least 110 people either swam to safety or were rescued.

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Officials said the ferry was heading toward Mawa in the Munshiganj district from Kewrakandi in the Madaripur district, about 28 miles south of Dhaka, the capital.

Prime Minister Sheik Hasina Wajed ordered all relevant wings of the government to join rescue operations. An investigation reportedly was ordered to determine the cause of the sinking.

A survivor of the sinking told reporters he saw nearby speedboats rescuing 50 to 60 passengers.

Rescuers from police, fire, coast guard, Rapid Action Battalion, army and navy units rushed to the Lauhajang Turning Point in the river, where the ferry went down. But a strong current was hampering the operation.

Jasim Uddin, 35, was among a crowd of people who watched from shore as the vessel sank, recording it on his cellphone as it disappeared, the Associated Press reported. When the survivors began to reach land, he said, they were exhausted and panicked.

"One woman swam nearly to shore and was picked up by a speedboat," he said. "She was crying, saying she has two daughters. It was panic. Everyone was praying to God."

As news of the sinking spread, AP reported, about 500 people, including relatives of the missing, gathered by the water, many of them weeping and holding photos of loved ones.

Kader is a special correspondent.

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