A boat packed with passengers capsized on a river in northeastern Bangladesh, leaving at least 35 people dead and about 20 others missing, officials said.

The boat carrying about 80 people collided with a sand-laden cargo vessel in the dark on the River Surma in Sunamganj district late last night, about 175 km northeast of the capital, Dhaka, local government officials Abul Hashem and Matiur Rahman said. Both officials spoke to The Associated Press by telephone from the scene of the accident.

Rescuers have recovered 35 bodies, all of them from the passenger boat, and rescuers were using torch lights to search for about 20 people who have been reported missing, the two officials said. Some survivors swam to shore or were rescued by local villagers.

Dhaka’s ‘Prothom Alo’ newspaper reported that most of the dead were women and children.

The boat was travelling from Sunamganj to the neighbouring Kishoreganj district.

Boat accidents, blamed on lax rules and unfit vessels, are common in Bangladesh, a delta nation of more than 230 rivers.

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