Printed on Mon Sep 26 2022 7:15:40 PM

39 dead as launch catches fire off Jhalokati coast

Staff Correspondent
launch fire
A fire broke out in the "MV Ovijan-10" passenger launch bound for Barguna from Dhaka. The fire brigade said 39 bodies had been recovered so far.

Kamal Uddin Bhuiyan, deputy director of the Barisal division of the fire brigade, was quoted as saying that the fire brigade members recovered 39 bodies so far.

He added that at least 72 people have been injured in the incident so far.

The accident took place at around 3 am on Friday in the Gabkhan channel of Sugandha river in Jhalokati Sadar Upazila.

"The bodies of 39 people have been recovered from the launch so far," Shahidul Islam, station master of the Jhalakati fire brigade, told.

Rezwan Chowdhury Shakib, a Red Crescent volunteer at Barisal Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital, told: "At least 60 people have been admitted to the hospital in this incident. Most of them were burnt."

The fire brigade said that 60 members of our brigade from Barisal, Jhalokati, and Pirojpur rushed to the spot after receiving the news at around 3.27 am.

According to fire brigade sources, 70 members from Barisal, Jhalokati, and Pirojpur rushed to the spot after receiving the news at around 3:26 am.

Lima Khanam, a fire officer on duty, told: "Firefighters arrived at the scene around 3:50 am. 15 units joined in firefighting and rescue operations. The fire was brought under control around 5:20 am.

Many of the passengers survived by jumping into the river in the bitter cold from the launch.

Passengers who were able to swim to the river bank feared that the number of casualties could be high.

"I was returning to Barguna from Dhaka," Saidur Rahman, a launch passenger, told.

"When we reached the area near Gabkhan Bridge just before the Jhalakati launch terminal, a fire broke out in the engine room of the launch at around 3 am and it spread to the entire launch."

"Many of the passengers jumped into the river and were able to swim ashore. However, the launch had at least 500 passengers, including children, the elderly, and women", he said.

He added, "I came out of the VIP cabin with a burning smell and saw that the launch was on fire. Then I jumped into the river with my wife and brother-in-law and swam to the shore in the bitter cold."

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