A ferry packed with dozens of people going home for an Islamic festival capsized Monday in a river in central Bangladesh after hitting a cargo boat, killing at least 15 people, officials said.

Several passengers were still missing, the area's chief government administrator, Mohammad Moniruddin, said from the site of the accident.

Rescuers recovered the bodies of four children, 10 women and one man from the sunken ferry, said local police chief Tofazzal Hossain.

Hossain said a salvage ship was on its way to the scene from nearby Narayanganj district to help lift the sunken ferry.

The ferry MV Shah Poran, carrying about 70 people, sank in the Meghna River in Munshiganj district, 20 miles southeast of Dhaka, Moniruddin said.

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Many passengers were able to swim to safety because the accident occurred close to shore, the United News of Bangladesh news agency reported.

The ferry was packed with vacationers going home for this week's Islamic festival of Eid-ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting.

Ferry accidents, often blamed on lax rules and unsafe navigation, are common in the delta nation of 144 million people.

Last year, more than 300 people died in ferry accidents.