Bangladesh: police arrest ferry owner in deadly fire

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Bangladesh police arrested the owner of a crowded ferry that caught fire and killed at least 39 people (AFP / arifur rahman)

Bangladesh police arrested the owner of a crowded ferry on Monday that caught fire and killed at least 39 people on Christmas Eve.

Bangladesh police arrest the owner of a crowded ferry that caught fire and left at least 39 dead / AFP Photo

Deputy District Police Commissioner Zohar Ali said firefighters recovered the body of the latest victim from the river around 9:00 a.m. Monday morning.

The fire broke out in the middle of the night of December 24 as many of the ferry’s 700 passengers slept near the southern neighborhood of Barguna.

Survivors told poignant stories of having to jump into the Sugandha River from the three-story ferry, which was only designed to carry 420 people.

Most of the victims were burned to death while others drowned in the freezing waters trying to escape.

Ferry owner Hum Jalal Sheikh was arrested on Monday, a police spokesperson told reporters, a day after a court issued an arrest warrant for eight people, including the captain and the Obhijaan-10 crew.

Marine Police Officer Mahbubur Rahman said the ship did not have adequate fire extinguishers and buoys to deal with a major accident in the middle of the river.

“We spoke to the survivors and they said the ferry operator kept the ship moving for almost an hour after its engine room caught fire,” he said.

“If they had stopped the ferry and dropped anchor immediately, it could have saved all of those precious lives. “

Experts in Bangladesh blame poor maintenance, lax safety standards at shipyards and overcrowding for the South Asian nation’s frequent maritime disasters.


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