At least 39 people have been killed after MV Avijan-10, a three-decked ferry packed with passengers, caught massive fire in southern Bangladesh, Friday, near the town of Jhalakathi. The fire started from the engine room. As the fire ripped through the crowded ferry, many passengers jumped into the river to escape the flames and some of them drowned. About one hundred others were injured, some in critical condition, and many had gone missing. The ferry sailed from the capital Dhaka to the town of Barguna. About 500 people were on board the vessel.The number of casualties could increase because many of the passengers have severe burns. The blaze continued for hours. Fire officer Kamal Uddin Bhuiyan, who led the rescue operation, said 15 fire engines took nearly two hours to control it. The ferry was brought to the shore after the fire was extinguished.
The government set up two committees to investigate the fire and ordered them to report their findings in three days. The accident can be explained. Passengers are loaded on to poorly maintained boats, with poorly trained crews, in Bangladesh and ferries capsizing is common in this country. Bangladesh is crisscrossed by about 130 rivers and ferries are a leading means of transportation. Nearly 30% of Bangladesh’s 170 million people commute through river routes.