Bangladesh: Packed Ferry Catches Fire, 37 Dead

Bangladesh: Packed Ferry Catches Fire, 37 Dead - Sakshi Post

Police said 37 people were killed in Bangladesh when a crowded ferry caught fire.

The event occurred early in the morning in Jhakakathi, which is 250 kilometres south of Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital.

The accident was the most recent in a series of similar occurrences in Bangladesh.

At least 37 people died in Bangladesh on Friday after an overloaded night ferry caught fire, according to authorities, as scared passengers jumped overboard to escape the flames.

The latest maritime disaster to strike Bangladesh occurred in the early hours of the morning in a river near Jhalokathi, 250 kilometres (160 miles) south of Dhaka.

"We have recovered 37 bodies. The death toll may rise. Most died from the fire and a few by drowning after many people jumped into the river," local police chief Moinul Islam told media.

According to Islam, the fire started in the engine room and spread throughout the ship. Despite its declared capacity of 310 passengers, the ship was carrying at least 500 passengers, many of whom were returning from the capital.

"We have sent some 100 people with burn injuries to hospitals in Barisal," he said.

According to witnesses, the fire started at 3 a.m. (2100 GMT) and swiftly spread.

"We were sleeping on a mat on the ground floor deck. All the passengers were sleeping. My nine-year-old grandson, Nayeem, was with me. He jumped into the river. I don't know what happened to him," said an elderly grandmother.

Other survivors claimed they saw a tiny fire in the engine room shortly after the boat left Dhaka's Sadarghat river port at 9:00 p.m. on Thursday.

"A lot of people ran for safety as the fire spread. A lot of people could not get out of their cabins where they were sleeping. Many jumped into the river," said another survivor at Barisal Medical College Hospital.

Rescuers arrived at the scene within an hour of the fire breaking out, according to Johar Ali, the local district administration and took the injured to neighbouring hospitals.

"We spoke to passengers. And they said there were between 500 and 700 passengers," he told AFP.

"The fire went on for four or five hours before it was doused. The entire [ferry] has been gutted. But they managed to bring it to the shore," Ali said.

Inside the boat, scenes of burned motorbikes and wrecked cabins were broadcast on local media.

As fire department and coast guard divers probed the murky waters, shell-shocked survivors and their families flocked to the beach.

The catastrophe was the most recent in a series of mishaps in the delta nation, which is crisscrossed by rivers.

Poor maintenance, inadequate safety regulations at shipyards, and overpopulation are all blamed by experts in the 170 million-strong South Asian nation.

At least 21 people were killed when a passenger boat collided with a sand-laden cargo ship in August. In two separate accidents in April and May, 54 people were murdered.

A ferry sank in Dhaka in June of last year after being rammed from behind by another ship, killing at least 32 passengers. In February 2015, an overloaded ship collided with a cargo vessel, killing at least 78 passengers.

Fires are also a common cause of death and injury. A fire in a food and beverage plant in Rupganj, an industrial town west of Dhaka, killed 52 people in July.

In February 2019, a fire ripped through Dhaka flats where chemicals were illegally kept, killing at least 70 people.

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