At least 38 people have died in Bangladesh after a deadly fire swept through a launch on the Sugandha River in Bangladesh, an official said on Friday.
“We have recovered 38 bodies so far,” Kalam Hossain Bhuiyan, a senior fire service official in the southern district of Jhalakathi, where the accident happened at around 3 a.m. local time.
The fire started from the engine room of the launch, which was heading to Barguna from the capital Dhaka via Jhalakathi, Bhuiyan added. The cause of the fire was not immediately clear.
The BBC reported the death toll could climb further as more than 50 people have been admitted to hospital, with some passengers still missing and some others in critical condition, said Zohor Ali, Jhalakathi district administrator.
As many as 500 people were reportedly on board the vessel. The fire is believed to have started in the engine room and quickly spread as the ferry travelled along the Sugandha river in the early hours, fire services official Kamal Hossain Bhuiyan told local media.
The blaze reportedly continued for hours.
One passenger who survived, an elderly grandmother, told AFP news agency most people had been sleeping when the fire broke out. A man who was on board the ferry said the vessel appeared to have issues with its engine before the blaze and later became filled with smoke.