Dhaka, Dec 25 (EFE).- Bangladesh on Saturday buried the victims of a fire that broke out on a boat as the death toll touched 41, the authorities said.
“We could so far confirm the death of 41 people. The bodies of 37 dead victims were handed to the local administration. Three people died on their way to hospital in Dhaka and one died in hospital today,” Saiful Hasan Badal, the head of administration in the southern Barishal Division – where the incident occurred -, told EFE.
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.
Badal said the authorities handed over 14 bodies to their relatives among the 37 recovered in the immediate aftermath of the fire incident.
“We could not identify 23 bodies. They were buried today in Barguna under the supervision of local administration. We kept their DNA samples. Once identified, if family wished they would be allowed the transfer bodies from the grave,” he said.
The official said that the fire service and Coast Guard have continued their rescue operations on Saturday as 17 people still remained missing.
“We opened a control room in Barguna district and asked people to report about their missing relatives,” he said.
Jhalokathi district administration chief Mohammad Zohor Ali told EFE at least 50 injured passengers were undergoing treatment in two public hospitals in the region while 19 were transferred to capital Dhaka.
Samanta Lal Sen, the head of Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery in Dhaka told EFE among the injured transferred to Dhaka at least five passengers were fighting for their lives.
Boat accidents are common in Bangladesh, but fire breaking out on them are 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