At least 37 people were killed when an overcrowded night ferry caught fire in Bangladesh on Friday, police said, as terrified passengers jumped over-board to escape the blaze.
The latest maritime tragedy to hit the nation happened in the early hours in a river near Jhalo-kathi, 250 kilometres 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,” local police chief Moinul Islam told AFP.
The blaze was believed to have originated in the engine room and ripped through the ferry, Islam said. Despite having an official capacity of 310 the vessel was carrying at least 500 people, many of whom were returning home from the capital.
“We have sent some 100 people with burn inju-ries to hospitals in Barisal,” he said.
Witnesses 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,” said an elderly grandmother.—AFP