The cause of the fire at the MV Expedition-10 launch is yet to be ascertained. The fire is believed to have started from the launch engine room. A preliminary investigation by a committee formed by the Ministry of Shipping revealed that the launch engine also had a defect. The members of the investigation team inspected the burnt launch anchored on the banks of Sugandha river in Jhalokati on Saturday.
It is also learned that the master (driver) who was supposed to run the launch on paper was not operating it. The Department of Shipping has to be informed about the appointment of master in launch.
Mahbub Rashid, a surveyor at the Department of Shipping , told Prothom Alo on his mobile phone last night that the owner had not informed the department about the appointment of three of the four masters and drivers of the Abhiyan-10 launch. Another master was operating the launch in place of the one whose name is on the survey certificate of the launch. This is a violation of the rules. The launch owner can change the master and driver. However, it has to be done by informing the Department of Shipping.
Meanwhile, the investigation team found out that the main door of the launch was closed at the time of the fire. That is why even though the launch anchored near the river in a burning condition, the passengers could not get out of the main gate. He jumped into the river through the window as he could.
At least 36 passengers have been killed in a fire that broke out on the MV Abhiyan-10 launch on the Sugandha river in Jhalokati on Thursday evening. 65 people are admitted in the hospital. 51 people are missing.
There is no training for launch personnel on how to control fires. Even if there is a fire extinguisher, the launch crew does not know how to use it. As a result, if the launch catches fire while moving, you have to jump into the water or wait for rescuers.
Muhammad Abu Sayem, a fire service official at Sadarghat station in Dhaka , told Prothom Alo that the launch crew had no idea about the use of fire extinguishers. Even when the launch sinks, passengers don’t know how to use life-saving buoys. And in most launches, buoys are so tightly tied that they can’t be used when needed.
According to BIWTA’s Dhaka office, about 221 passenger launches are allowed to operate from Sadarghat to various destinations in the southern part of the country. On an average 75 launches leave from Dhaka every day.
There is a fire extinguisher for BIWTA employees working at Sadarghat terminal. And the fire service does not provide training or rehearsals for firefighters for launch crews unless the owners apply. In the last two years, only the MV Manami launch on the Dhaka-Barisal waterway has been set on fire once, according to fire service sources.
River Fire Station, located at BIWTA wharf in Shampur, Dhaka, is responsible for preventing naval fire accidents. Malek Mollah, an official at the special fire station, told Prothom Alo that they did not conduct any drills or training despite conducting awareness campaigns to prevent a fire at the launch.
The kitchen was next to the engine room of the expedition launch. The kitchen is set up there without following the rules. Abdus Salam Mridha, the driver of the Sundarbans-11 launch, said that although the distance from the engine room of the big launch to the kitchen is more, the kitchen is fitted with the smaller sized launches. Gas cylinders used in