37 killed as ferry catches fire in Bangladesh, officials expect rise in death toll

The ferry fire has resulted in the killing of 37 people and hundreds of other passengers have received burn injuries. Photo: Twitter/ ArianaNews

At least 37 people were killed and hundrends recieved burn injuries after an overcrowded night ferry caught fire in Bangladesh, international media reported quoting officials on Friday.

Reports quoting police officials said that terrified during the incident passengers jumped overboard to escape the blaze.

The latest maritime tragedy to hit the impoverished low-lying nation happened in the early hours 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,” international news agency AFP quoted a local police chief Moinul Islam as saying.

The report quoting the police chief further said, the blaze was believed to have originated in the engine room and ripped through the ferry.

Despite having an official capacity of 310 the vessel was carrying at least 500 people, many of who were returning home from the capital.

“We have sent some 100 people with burn injuries to hospitals in Barisal,” he was quoted as saying.

Quoting witnesses, the report said the fire originated at around 3:00 am (2100 GMT) and quickly 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,” the report quoted an elderly woman as saying.

Other survivors said they saw a small fire in the engine room as soon as the packed ferry set off from the Sadarghat river station in Dhaka at 9:00 pm on Thursday.

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

In June last year, a ferry sank in Dhaka after it was hit 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 cargo vessel, the report added.

Meanwhile, the Government of Pakistan has expressed grief over the unfortunate incident and offered condolences to the affected families.

“Government and people of Pakistan are deeply saddened by the loss of precious lives in a ferry accident in Jhalakathi district in Bangladesh. Our deepest condolences to the bereaved families and the Government of Bangladesh,” the statement by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan said.


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