DHAKA (Reuters) - At least 39 people died in Bangladesh on Sunday when a passenger ferry capsized after colliding with a trawler on the river Padma with more than 100 people aboard, police said.

Rescuers managed to save at least 50 passengers and were still searching for more survivors, regional police official Bidhan Tripura told Reuters.

Low-lying Bangladesh, with extensive inland waterways and slack safety standards, suffers regular ferry disasters, with deaths sometimes running into the hundreds.

The 39 bodies retrieved so far from the water, more than half of them women and children, Tripura said. Police have seized the trawler and arrested the captain and his two crewmen, he said.

Another police team, assisted by firemen and the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority, was trying to salvage the ferry, he said. Divers were also trying to retrieve any bodies trapped inside the vessel.

The ferry was heading to Paturia from Daulatdia in Rajbari, located on the opposite bank of the river and 136 km (85 miles) northwest of Dhaka.

Shajahan Khan, the shipping minister, told reporters at the scene that an investigation had been launched.

"A probe committee has been formed and they have been directed to find out the real cause of this sad incident within seven days," he said.

A similar accident on Feb. 13 killed at least seven passengers in southern Bangladesh.