DHAKA, Bangladesh – Hundreds of desperate people used small boats to search for missing loved ones on Tuesday, three days after a ferry sank in a river near Bangladesh's capital, leaving at least 151 people dead.
The double-decker MV Maharaj was packed with more than 200 people when it capsized during a storm just before midnight Saturday on the Buriganga River (search).
The vessel was about 30 minutes into its journey from Dhaka (search) to the eastern town of Chandpur when wind gusts struck. It capsized and sank near Pagla town. Many of the passengers were heading home ahead of a public holiday.
Up to 50 people were either rescued by fishing boats or swam to safety, survivors said.
Thirty-one bodies washed ashore Tuesday, raising the death toll to 151, said Mustafizur Rahman, a senior police officer near the scene of the accident. Most of the corpses were found inside the sunken ferry when it was salvaged Monday, rescuers said.
Authorities called off a search for dozens of missing passengers. "The vessel has been salvaged and thoroughly searched. There are no more bodies inside it," Lt. Cmdr. Mahbubur Rashid said. "We are calling off the search."
But survivors and relatives used boats to continue searching for the missing.
"I must find her alive or dead," Dhaka businessman Nazrul Islam said Tuesday, while searching near the scene of the accident for his younger sister, Ruma.
Islam was traveling home with three sisters. He and two of his sisters were rescued by a fishing boat.
On a nearby boat was Abdul Latif Munshi, a 50-year-old man looking for his missing daughter who worked in a garment factory in Dhaka.
"I'd promised my ailing wife to bring our daughter home. What shall I now tell my wife?" the crying man said.
Ferry accidents are common in this South Asian nation crisscrossed by rivers. Most accidents are blamed on overcrowding, bad weather, and poor navigation.