Dozens Killed During Bangladesh Ferry FireNear Jhalakathi

  • Anirban By
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Dozens Killed During Bangladesh Ferry FireNear Jhalakathi

Nearly 37 casualties almost 100 injuries have been confirmedafter a packed ferry caught fire in southern Bangladesh, according to local officials.

The fire on the three-decked vessel began mid-river near the town of Jhalakathi as it sailed from the capital Dhaka to the town of Barguna. A few of the victims drowned after jumping into the water.The number of deaths in Friday’s disaster is possibly going to increase as a lot of the passengers have acute burns.As many as 500 people were supposedly on board the vessel.

The fire is assumed to have started in the engine room and spread fast as the ferry cruised along the Sugandha river in the early hours, according to fire services official Kamal Hossain Bhuiyan.

The blaze reportedly continued for hours. An elderly lady survivor said that most people were sleeping as the fire broke out. Ferries capsizing in Bangladesh is a common sight. Passengers are loaded onto the inadequately maintained boats, with poorly trained crews, often more than the vessel’s rated capacity. Hundreds have drowned in the country’s rivers over the last decade. However, the fire that destroyed this ferry adds a new dimension of horror to the story.

The fire is assumed to have started in the engine room, rapidly spreading, and sprinklers or other safety measures may have had minimal effect.

This and other tragedies occur due to a failure of enforcement. Operators are hardly penalized and so defective ferries continue carrying hundreds of passengers daily. Almost 30% of Bangladesh’s 170 million population commute through river routes. As they are mostly poor Bangladeshis, the government has not made it mandatory to regulate lax safety standards. Ferry disasters are so frequent that there is a little international outcry to pressurize them, and it is assumed that the ferry owners are politically influential.

The result is that hundreds of poorer Bangladeshis risk their lives only to make it to work.

A special committee has been set up to investigate the incident, according to reports.

Earlier in June 2020, dozens of people died after a boat carrying nearly 50 people capsized near Dhaka.

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