By Annisa Essack
At least 32 people died and about 100 injured when a packed ferry caught fire in southern Bangladesh on Friday, the latest maritime tragedy to hit the low-lying nation.
The blaze on the triple-deck Obhijan 10 started early in the morning near the town of Jhalakathi as it sailed from the capital Dhaka towards Barguna town. The vessel was carrying around 500 people.
Some victims drowned after jumping into the water. Casualties are likely to increase as many passengers suffer severe burns.
“The three-storey Obhijan 10 caught fire mid-river. We have recovered 32 bodies,” local police chief Moinul Islam told the AFP news agency.
“The death toll may rise. Most died from the fire and a few by drowning after they jumped into the river,” he said.
Islam said the fire was believed to have originated in the engine room and then ripped through the ferry.
Ferry accidents are not uncommon in Bangladesh, with mishaps blamed on poor maintenance, lax safety standards and overcrowding.