Bangladesh court orders probe panels to submit finds on launch disaster in 30 days

The authorities have been directed to draw up a list of those killed and injured in the incident on Dec 24.

The court also asked them to submit within 90 days a detailed report on the fitness, route permit, licence and safety systems of all vessels, including launches and ships.

The bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman passed the order during the hearing of two writ petitions on Tuesday, according to Deputy Attorney General Bipul Bagmar.

In the deadliest launch inferno in Bangladesh’s history, Abhijan-10 caught fire around 3 am on Dec 24 near Jhalakathi’s Gabkhan on the Sugandha River. The blaze engulfed the three-storey launch killing 42 people, with 80 others hospitalised.

The Ministry of Shipping and the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority formed committees to investigate the incident.

Two Supreme Court lawyers filed separate writ petitions seeking directions from the court on the issue of compensation for the victims and the steps taken to avoid accidents on waterways.

Lawyer Younus Ali Akand sought an interim direction for the payment of Tk 1 million in financial assistance to each of the families of the dead and Tk 500,000 for the injured.

Advocate Soumitra Sardar also filed an application seeking an interim order to compensate the injured and the families of the dead with Tk 1 million each.

“The court said that if any victim of the Abhijan-10 accident felt the need for financial assistance, they could appeal to the deputy commissioners of Barishal, Jhalakathi and Barguna,” said Advocate Anisur Rahman, who represented Soumitra at the hearing.

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“The district administration will take their applications into account and take steps accordingly.”

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