DHAKA, Bangladesh – A ferry packed with people going home for an Islamic festival capsized as they disembarked in southern Bangladesh, leaving at least 30 dead and scores missing, authorities said Saturday.
Police and fire brigade divers pulled 30 bodies from the sunken part of the ferry, local police officials Saiful Islam and Showkat Hossain said. Many of the dead were women and children.
The officials said some of the missing were feared trapped inside the ferry.
It was unclear how many people were on board when the boat capsized.
Dhaka's private ETV television station said the ferry was carrying more than 1,500 people, adding many had already disembarked when the accident occurred.
Gas torches were used to cut open submerged cabins, and local residents joined divers to search for survivors inside the ferry.
The triple-deck ferry, M.V. Coco, was traveling late Friday from the capital Dhaka to the coastal town of Bhola and was crowded with people heading home to celebrate the Eid-ul-Azha festival.
It tipped and its rear portion sank in the Tetulia River as many passengers scrambled to disembark at a terminal near Bhola, 64 miles south of Dhaka, witnesses said.
Anxious relatives searched for missing loved ones. Passenger Al Amin said he and others jumped to shore as the ferry started tilting at the terminal.
"I'm looking for my brother," said Amin. "In all 10 of our family members were returning home for the Eid. All of us except my teenage brother survived."
In Bangladesh, ferry authorities usually don't keep passenger lists, making it difficult to know the exact number of passengers on board.