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Search called off for capsized Bangladesh ferry; dozens still missing

People gather on the banks of the River Padma after a passenger ferry capsized in Munshiganj district, Bangladesh, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014.

A.M. Ahad/AP

Officials in Bangladesh called off the search Monday for an overloaded ferry that sank a week ago in one of the country's largest rivers, leaving more than a hundred people dead or missing.

The ferry, the M.V. Pinak, had a capacity of 85 passengers but was carrying more than 200 when it capsized last Monday in Munshiganj district. Many of the passengers were returning from their home villages after celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

Local chief administrator Saiful Hasan Badal said 46 bodies have been recovered and 61 people remain missing and are presumed dead.

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He said the search was halted Monday after rescuers scoured more than 50 square kilometres of the Padma river but failed to find the vessel. Bad weather and strong currents hampered the search, he said.

Rescuers used two salvage ships, one survey ship and dozens of divers to search for the vessel.

Badal said authorities in surrounding areas have been asked to watch for any bodies and immediately report them to police.

Munshiganj district is about 44 kilometres south of Dhaka.

Scores of people die in ferry accidents every year in Bangladesh, where boats are a common form of transportation. The Padma is one of the largest rivers in the delta nation, which is crisscrossed by more than 130 rivers.

Overcrowding and poor safety standards are often blamed for the accidents. In May, about 50 people died in a ferry accident in the same district.

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