World's most dangerous waterways

It was just after sunset when the first hazard came dimly into view. Peering through wire-rim glasses into the inky-black waters of Bangladesh's Buriganga River, Captain Lufthur Rahman shouted, "Starboard right! Man the boiler room pumps!"

Sailing completely blind, without shipping lights and only the sonorous blast from a foghorn to help, he implausibly steered a course to avoid a hugely overloaded oncoming ferry.

Considering the mayhem in the water - a steady flow of torpedo-shaped taxis, multi-storey barges, wide-loaded junks, flimsy rubber craft and shabby freighters travelling between Dhaka and the Bay of Bengal - it could have been a major disaster.

Yet this was no fluke. Every night for decades, the PS Ostrich, a historic Bangladeshi paddle-wheel steamer, has managed to sail through the centre of all this chaos, as if caught-up in a real-life game of Battleship.

Such vigilance helps keep the world's most densely populated country afloat. Bangladesh is drenched with 8,000km of navigable rivers and waterways, creating an aqueous plain to rival any seascape that Turner could have painted. Its deltas are so huge and so unfathomable - the only way to tackle them is by boat.

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