Families of Jhalakathi launch fire victims to get Tk 150,000 as financial assistance

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Desk report, Dec 24: The government will provide Tk 150,000 in aid to the families of the victims of the Jhalakathi launch fire, State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said.

The local administration of Barguna also announced that it will provide Tk 25,000 in aid to the families of the victims to meet the funeral expenses, the minister said after visiting the scene on Friday.

“As the launch, MV Abhijan-10, was heading to Barguna we assumed that most of the victims or passengers injured in the incident would be the residents of this district,” Deputy Commissioner Habibur Rahman said earlier.

The families of the injured will receive Tk 15,000, he added.

At least 37 people were reported dead so far after a midnight fire swept through the launch on the Sugandha river in the southern district of Jhalakathi. Fire Service personnel doused the flames after three hours’ efforts.

The death toll is likely to rise as more passengers have been injured after the Barguna-bound launch caught fire. At least 72 passengers injured in the incident were taken to hospital.

The shipping minister went to Jhalakathi from Dhaka after the news of the fire broke in the morning. The ministry has formed a seven-strong probe committee to look into the incident.

Responding to a question over the adequacy of the vessel’s fire safety system, the minister said, “The fitness certificate of the launch is valid until 2022. No vessel gets a fitness certificate if it lacks the safety system.”

The probe committee will see if the certificate was issued properly, he added.