Probe panel blames Abhijan owner, master and driver for deadly blaze

The panel submitted its report to Shipping Secretary Mohammad Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury on Monday, according to the ministry’s spokesman Mohammed Jahangir Alam.

However, he did not shed light on any other details relating to the report.

After the tragedy on Dec 24, the ministry formed a seven-strong committee headed by Joint Secretary Tofael Islam to look into the incident.

The fire broke out at the vessel’s engine room and the panel blamed the owner, master and engine drivers, said a member of the probe panel, on condition of anonymity.

The report also highlighted the lack of a monitoring survey but did not directly blame the surveyor for the blaze, according to the official.

The installation of a faulty engine has been identified as the main reason behind the blaze, he added.

In the report, the panel also recommended introducing a ticketing system and scrapping of the rotation system, among others.

At least 47 people died after a midnight fire swept through the launch MV Abhijan-10 on the Sugandha river in the southern district of Jhalakathi.

Among them, 36 bodies were recovered from the scene while the police and Fire Service recovered 5 bodies floating on the river.

Two passengers died on their way to the hospital. Also, four passengers of the launch died at Sheikh Hasina National Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute over the past few days.

A total of three cases have been filed over the incident, with one filed with the Marine Court naming the owner, master and driver.

Masters Reaz Ahmed, Khalilur Rahman, engine drivers Masum Billah and Abul Kalam sought bail from the Marine Court, but the court turned down the plea and sent them to jail.

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Also, launch owner Hamjalal Sheikh, 55, Md Shameem Ahmed, 43 and Md Rasel Ahmmed, 43 are also in jail following their arrest under section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

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