Sunday, 25 January 2009

Deaths in Vietnamese ferry accident

At least 40 people have drowned and five people are believed to be missing after a crowded ferry sank in central Vietnam.

The river boat accident occured on Sunday when the ferry was taking people to a market, online news site VnExpress said.

Forty bodies, including those of 32 women, have been recovered from the Gianh river in Quang Binh province, a report on the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper's website said.

He said that rescuers were still searching for others and that an initial investigation showed that the boat had been overloaded.

The accident happened in chilly temperatures when passengers stood up in a rush to get off the boat as it approached a pier on the river, Cao Thi Huong, identified as a survivor of the accident, was quoted as saying on the VnExpress website.

There had been 80 people on the boat, despite it only having a licence to carry 40, website reported.

The website said that police had detained Nguyen Xuan Quy, the captain and owner of the boat, while investigating the accident.

Hundreds of bereaved relatives crowded the river banks after the accident, crying as volunteers carried off bodies using hammocks and nets suspended from shoulder poles, news images showed.

The tragedy happened around 8 am (01:00 GMT) on the eve of the Tet lunar New Year, Vietnam's biggest annual festival, when extended families reunite for traditional feasts and to pray for good luck in the year ahead.


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