The Marine Court on Sunday issued a warrant of arrest against eight men, including four owners of ‘MV Abhijan-10’ over the devastating fire at the three-decker vessel in the Sugandha River in Jhalakathi on Friday.
The court of Joynab Begum gave the order after Shafikur Rahman, chief inspector of the Department of Shipping, filed a case against them with the court, located at BIWTA building at Motijheel in the capital, on the day.
The owners of the vessel are Hamjalal Sheikh, Shamim Ahmed, Russell Ahmed and Ferdous Hasan Rabbi. Other accused are in-charge master Riaz Shikder, in-charge driver Masum Billah, second master Khalilur Rahman and second driver Abul Kalam of the launch, said the prosecutor.
Chief Inspector Shafikur Rahman said they filed the case as per the primary findings of the probe committee formed by the Shipping Ministry.
After the end of the investigation by the probe committee, a supplementary case would be filed in this regard, he said.
The probe committee on Saturday told journalists that they primarily found faults in the engine room of the launch. Overheated and larger-than-approved engines were set up sans permission of the department.
In the meantime, another case was filed against the accused and some others with a Barguna Court.
Barguna Chief Judicial Magistrate Mohammad Mahbub Alam accepted the case and ordered the officer-in-charge of Sadar Police Station to record it as a first information report (FIR), said administrative official of the court Akhter Hossain.
Nazmul, also chairman of Baliatali Union Parishad under the Sadar Upazila, mentioned the names of six men as the witnesses of the incident.
UNO of Pathargatha Upazila Hossain Mohammad Al Mujahid and Advocate MD Anisur Rahman are among the witnesses, who survived the fire incident in the launch.
Saifur Rahman Sohag, lawyer of the case, said the negligence of the owners and staffers of the vessel were clear in the incident.
The plaintiff said the launch left the Sadarghat with a large number of passengers despite having faults, which was responsible for the death of at least 41 passengers and injury to about 100.
He demanded immediate arrest of the accused in the case.
Like the previous two days, the rescue workers of Fire Service Civil Defence (FSCD), Bangladesh Coast Guard, police, local administration and local people conducted rescue operation on Sunday, said Kobad Ali Sarkar, assistant director (Barishal Division) of the FSCD.
He said that they did not find any other body in the river.
Saidur Rahman, judicial pesker, of Barguna district, told Daily Sun that the district administration set a control room over the incident.
The relatives of 31 people gave their names and addresses, as they are still missing.
The three-decker Barguna-bound launch caught fire in the Sugandha River in Jhalakathi Sadar early on Friday, leaving at least 42 passengers dead and about 100 injured. More than 40 passengers remained missing.
On Saturday, a village police member filed an unnatural death case with Jhalakathi Sadar Model Police Station.
Search operation continues
Meanwhile, the search drive in the Sugandha River was going on for the 3rd consecutive day on Sunday for tracing those who went missing following the massive fire in the crowded launch.
The divers from local fire service and Coast Guard resumed the search operation on Saturday morning and it is still continuing, said Khalulur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Sadar Police Station in Jhalakathi district, reports UNB.
“No new body was recovered from the river till the filing of this report around 11 am,” he said.
Besides, the control room, set up by the local administration, listed the names of 25 missing people with information given by their relatives and family members.
Earlier, the bodies of 23 people were buried in a mass graveyard following a namaz-e-janaza in Barguna on Saturday.
The bodies were buried at Potkakhali mass graveyard in Sadar upazila around 12 pm.
The blaze broke out at 3am on Friday on the Barguna-bound launch carrying some 800 passengers from Dhaka and it engulfed the entire vessel within 10 minutes.
The death toll from the fire incident climbed to 41 on Saturday night. Besides, over 70 people suffered injuries and many of them are undergoing treatment at different hospitals.