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Launch Tragedy

Relatives search for loved ones

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 26 December, 2021 12:00 AM
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Relatives search 
for loved ones
Family members throng the Sugandha riverbank in Jhalakati in search of their loved ones who remained missing after the launch ‘MV Abhijan-10’ caught fire early Friday. – SUN PHOTO

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Elderly Farida Begum holding photos of her daughter, son-in-law and two-year-old grandson was walking down the Sugandha riverbank in search of her loved ones who were missing in the launch tragedy in Jhalakati.

She was asking for information on her missing relatives, showing their photos to people and wailing in the riverbank.

An inferno ripped through the three-decker Barguna-bound vessel MV Abhijan-10 carrying over 500 passengers in the Sugandha River in Sadar upazila of Jhalakati early Friday, leaving at least 42 dead.

The death toll from the launch tragedy may increase as many are believed to have remained missing.

The air of the bank becomes heavy as many people thronged there to search their loved ones who were feared missing in the incident.

Like Farida, many people are also rushing from the riverbank to hospital and other places to have information on their relatives.

Meanwhile, an unnatural death case was filed with Jhalakathi Sadar Police Station over the incident. Officer-in-Charge of the police station Khalilur Rahman confirmed it and said that village police member Jahangir Alam filed the case.

However, Farida hailing from Lobonghola village in Barguna Sadar said her daughter Pakhi Begum, son-in-law Abdul Hakim and grandson Nasirullah were returning to Barguna from Dhaka by ‘MV Abhijan-10’.  After the fire incident, they remained missing, she said.

The number of the total missing passengers could not known, but the relatives of 41 missing passengers had reportedly  been moving on the river bank and other parts for their dear and near ones since Friday morning.  The relatives stayed night at Technical School and College near the riverbank.

The Jhalakathi district administration arranged blankets for them while the district Awami League general secretary Saifullah Khan entertained them with foods.

The rescue workers of Fire Service Civil Defence, Bangladesh Coast Guard, police, local administration and local people conducted the rescue operations on Saturday, on the second day of the incident.

Johor Ali, deputy commissioner (DC) of Jhalakathi district, told the Daily Sun that they did not find anybody on the day.

They handed over 37 bodies to the deputy commissioner of Barguna, he said.

On the number of missing, he said that the Barguna was carrying out the duty of the missing list.

When contacted, Habibur Rahman, deputy commissioner (DC) of Barguna, told the Daily Sun that they received 37 bodies – 14 of them could be identified and were handed over to their family members.

The rest 20 bodies were charred beyond recognition and those were buried at a graveyard at Potkakhali after offering their Namz-E-Janaza, he said.

On the list of the missing, the DC said that they set up a control room for receiving the list of the missing and collecting DNA tests.

He said that they so far received 17 names of the missing people and the number would increase.

He said that they would begin to collect samples of relatives of the deceased and the missing to match if their loved ones were among the 20 bodies buried.

The seven-member committee formed by the Shipping Ministry visited the spot on Saturday morning. Former Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan was present at that time.

The committee chief said the engine of the launch developed a glitch.

Shajahan Khan told reporters that after the investigation committees’ findings, the government would take action against those responsible for the incident.   The members of three other committees also visited the spot.

Lokman Hossain Miah, senior secretary to the Health Services Division under the Health Ministry, told journalists that they have been confirmed of a total of 41 deaths so far.

Some 81 injured were admitted at different hospitals in Jhalakathi, Barishal and Dhaka, he said this while visiting the injured at Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery on Saturday noon.

He said that a total of 21 injured were admitted to the institute; of them, four were released after giving them treatment while 15 are now undergoing treatment at the institute.  Two were taken to ICU where one died, he said.