A ferry carrying 200 passengers capsized on the Meghna River, about 20 miles south of Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 15 May, leaving at least 12 people dead and hundreds still missing.

The MV Miraj-4 boat had been travelling to Shariatpur from Dhaka when it overturned in high winds and rain on the Meghna River at Rasulpur in the Munshiganj district.

Munshiganj district deputy commissioner Saiful Hassan Badal was quoted by Reuters as saying: "We fear there will be more bodies inside the vessel and we cannot be sure of the number of passengers [on-board]."

"We requested the boatswain to anchor at the riverside but he ignored us…the ferry capsized within a few seconds."

"We are receiving confusing figures on how many passengers were on board when it sank, but the number could range from 200 to 350," he added.

About 40 people have managed to swim to ashore, the local police officers said.

A passenger, Abdur Rahman said: "There was a sudden storm and we requested the boatswain to anchor at the riverside but he ignored us…the ferry capsized within a few seconds."

A rescue vessel from Dhaka reached the location three hours later, along with a dozen speedboats, fire-fighters and coastguard members that were involved in the search efforts.

The latest incident comes after an overcrowded ferry with 200 passengers on-board collided with an oil tanker and sank in March 2012, claiming around 150 people.