"Twenty seven bodies have been retrieved so far while searches are underway for the missing ones," a shipping department official told reporters near the scene of the accident at suburban Munshiganj at the outskirts of the capital. (Agencies)
He, however, could not confirm the exact number of passengers onboard the double-decker MV Miraj-4 though officials and survivors earlier estimated the figure to range between 200 and 350.
Fifty people swam to shore or were rescued soon after the ferry capsized in high wind and rain on the Meghna River on Thursday.
The Munshing district administration officials said 18 of the retrieved bodies were identified and taken away by relatives.
A salvage vessel detected the ferry, weighing 110 tonnes, on the riverbed under 80 feet water. A coastguard diver told TV channels at the scene that ‘many more bodies were still inside’.
Officials said that they expect to get a clearer picture regarding casualties once the ferry is pulled out of the water.
A team of 50 divers of fire service, coastguard and navy continued to look for the missing people while residents in the nearby villages supplemented the rescue operation with boats.
Hundreds of grim-faced people, mostly relatives of the missing passengers, awaited on the bank of the river as search continued. The accident perished an entire family of five.
Officials and local residents said that the storm hit the ferry over an hour after it left Dhaka's Sadarghat terminal for its destination at southwestern Shariatpur.
Most of the traumatized survivors blamed the captain and overloading of the vessel for the accident.
Authorities formed a three-member panel to probe the accident and submit its finding in a week.
The accident came less than two weeks after another passenger ferry with over 70 people onboard capsized during a seasonal storm in southwestern coastlines of Bangladesh.
Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, criss-crossed by some 340 rivers, particularly in monsoon period with experts blaming poorly maintained vessels, flaws in design and overcrowding for most of the tragedies.
"Twenty seven bodies have been retrieved so far while searches are underway for the missing ones," a shipping department official told reporters near the scene of the accident at suburban Munshiganj at the outskirts of the capital.