DHAKA, Bangladesh — A collision between a cargo ship and a small ferry killed 27 people and left more than a dozen others swimming for their lives in Bangladesh late on Sunday, the latest in a long history of maritime disasters on the country’s heavily trafficked waterways.
Most of the dead were trapped inside the ferry after it was struck by the hulking cargo ship while crossing a river in central Bangladesh and then capsized, the authorities said.
The bodies of 21 passengers were recovered from the ferry after an 11-hour salvage operation to pull the vessel from the water, said Golam Sadeq, chairman of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority. The bodies of six other passengers were recovered outside the ferry, and 19 passengers were rescued after swimming from the vessel, the authorities said.
Video taken from the riverbank showed the cargo ship plowing into the ferry, lifting it from the water and tossing passengers into the current. Hundreds of people gathered to watch the rescue operation, which was aided by local residents. The screams of relatives filled the air as they desperately sought to learn the fate of their loved ones.
Mustain Billah, deputy commissioner of the Naryanganj district, east of the capital, Dhaka, said he had opened an investigation into the cause of the collision. He said that the police, the military and the Inland Water Transport Authority were searching for the cargo ship.
Mr. Sadeq said that the authorities could not stop the ship immediately after the collision because of stormy weather.
Hundreds of people have died in accidents on Bangladesh’s rivers in recent decades. More than 30 people drowned in June after two ferries collided in Dhaka. In 2015, a cargo ship struck a ferry east of the capital, killing 69 people. In 2014, an overloaded ferry capsized in the Padma River, killing more than 100 people.