By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – Another body was recovered from the Sugandha river Tuesday morning, pushing the death toll from the deadliest ferry fire in Bangladesh to 39 as a search operation for the missing passengers continues, according to official sources.
On Dec. 24, the passenger ferry, MV Ovijan, caught fire in the river while heading to the southern district of Barguna from the capital Dhaka.
The body of a 28-year-old male passenger was found floating at the Kistakathi area of southern Jhalakathi district Tuesday morning.
“A patrolling team recovered the body from the accident area, bringing the number of bodies found so far to 38,” additional deputy commissioner of Jhalakathi district, Nazmul Alam Nabin, told Anadolu Agency.
Besides, one more critically injured passenger died at the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery in Dhaka on Saturday, according to hospital sources.
Some local media reports, however, are putting the casualties at between 42 and 44.
About 40 burn patients are under treatment at different medical facilities in Dhaka and the southern Barisal division.
Meanwhile, police arrested Hamjalal Sheikh, one of the owners of the ill-fated ferry, on Monday in connection with the accident.
A court had ordered the arrest of four owners and four master drivers of the commuter ferry, locally known as launch.
Besides, a case was filed with the country's higher court on Monday, seeking a compensation of 5 million Bangladeshi Taka (some $60,240) for the family of each dead passenger while 2 million Taka ($24,000) for every injured.
To identify 23 charred bodies buried in a mass grave in the southern district of Barguna, DNA samples from 33 relatives of the fire victims were collected.
“We want to identify all the bodies through medical tests,” Md. Habibur Rahman, deputy commissioner of southern Barguna district, told Anadolu Agency.
Search for the missing passengers is still continuing at different points, he added.
The local unit of the Red Crescent Society has compiled a list of 51 missing passengers.