40 dead, 150 injured after fire aboard ferry on Sugandha River


Dhaka: At least 40 people have died and more than 150 others were injured early Friday after a crowded three-story ferry carrying around 800 passengers caught fire on the Sugandha River in southern Bangladesh, officials said during the report. latest maritime tragedy to hit the delta nation. by rivers.

“The fire started at around 3 a.m. local time on Friday in the engine room of the launch of the MV Abhijan-10 bound for Barguna which started a journey from Dhaka,” police and fire officials said. , adding that dozens more of the passengers were missing.

“Nine of the bodies were recovered from the river … 72 passengers, most of them injured by the fire, are being treated at the Barishal Medical College hospital alone,” a fire official told a local television station.

TV stations, citing officials, reported that at least 40 people had died in the blaze.

A police officer told reporters at the scene that most people died from the blaze, while a few drowned while jumping into the river after the blaze broke out.

“Many passengers were asleep when the fire broke out… Some died from inhaling smoke, others were burned alive and others drowned,” he said.

Witnesses told reporters that the passenger ferry, called launch in Bangladesh, was carrying passengers beyond its capacity and that most of them were heading home to spend more time with their families on weekends. extended end.

Crying relatives gathered on the river bank and in hospital as massive rescue operations were underway.

Another fire official said an investigation was launched into the cause of the blaze as the passenger ferry passed through Jhhalakathi district.

Authorities ordered an investigation to determine the cause of the fire. A committee of seven members was formed and tasked with submitting a report within three days. Rescuers fear the death toll will rise as more passengers were injured in the blaze before dawn.

“Many passengers jumped into the river in a desperate attempt to save their lives as the fire raged for about three hours. Survivors say the launch was packed with passengers ”, bdnews24.com reported.

Kamal Uddin Bhuiyan, deputy director of the Barishal fire department who led the response, said they suspected the fire may have started in the engine room of the launch.

“After receiving the information, 15 firefighting units led by Kamal Uddin Bhuiyan, deputy director of fire and civil defense services of the Barishal division attended the scene at 3:50 a.m. and controlled the fire at 5:20 am, ”declared a fire. statement from the service control room.

“The launch’s engine room suddenly caught fire around 3:00 a.m. and spread rapidly when the ship was near the Gabkhan bridge,” Saidur Rahman, one of the survivors, said. Star of the day newspaper.

“There were a lot of passengers, including children and the elderly. Many of them jumped into the river and were able to swim to the shore, ”he said.

“I smelled a burning smell and got out of the VIP cabin to find there was a fire. Me, my wife and my brother-in-law then jumped into the cold water and swam to the shore, ”he added.

The accident was the latest of a number of similar incidents in Bangladesh, a small country crisscrossed by a network of some 230 rivers of varying sizes and shapes. These rivers cover almost 7% of the total area of ​​the country.

An overloaded speedboat believed to have been driven by an inexperienced miner capsized in Bangladesh after a collision with a sand-laden vessel in May this year, killing at least 26 people.

In June last year, a ferry carrying more than 100 passengers capsized in the Buriganga River in Bangladesh after being struck from behind by another ferry, killing at least 32 people. In February 2015, at least 78 people died when an overcrowded ship collided with a freighter.



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