Dhaka, Dec 27 (EFE).- The authorities in Bangladesh on Monday arrested the owner of a boat that caught fire mid-river last week, in which at least 41 people were killed, according to official sources.
The country’s elite security force, Rapid Action Battalion, in a statement, reported the arrest of Hamjalal Sheikh from a locality near capital city of Dhaka.
The arrest came a day after the Department of Shipping filed a case with the country’s marine court accusing the owner and boat staff of negligence.
“The boat carried flammable items like gas cylinders, oil containers. They kept these items near engine room which is not permitted,” chief inspector of shipping department, Shafiqur Rahman, told EFE.
Rahman said that they also filed a charge of negligence in duties against the owner of the boat and the staff concerned.
“They did not take proper action in proper time which amounts to negligence in duties,” he said.
The three-deck boat MV Avijan-10 caught fire around 3.30 am on Friday on Sugandha river in Jhalokathi, some 275 km (150 miles) south of Dhaka, when it was on its way to Barguna district from the capital.
Quoting survivors, the authorities said the boat was carrying between 700 and 800 passengers.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authorities told reporters on Friday the boat was permitted to carry 760 passengers during the daytime and 420 passengers at night.
The local unit of Red Crescent Society told reporters in Jhalokathi that 51 people were still missing.
Boat accidents are common in Bangladesh, but fire breaking out on them is unusual.
At least 22 people have been killed in the eastern Brahmanbaria district on Aug.28 in the last major boat accident.
According to the Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh, in 2020 a total of 313 people were killed and 371 went missing in 183 waterway accidents in the country. EFE