Bangladesh ferry fire – At least 37 people have been killed

At least 37 people have been killed and about 100 others injured after a packed ferry caught fire in southern Bangladesh, local officials say.

The blaze on the three-decked vessel started mid-river near the town of Jhalakathi as it sailed from the capital Dhaka to the town of Barguna.

Some of the victims drowned after jumping into the water.

The number of casualties in Friday’s disaster is likely to increase as many of the passengers have severe burns.

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.

“We were sleeping on a mat on the ground floor deck,” she said. “My nine-year-old grandson, Nayeem, was with me, he jumped into the river. I don’t know what happened to him.”

Another woman, who was travelling with her father, sister and six-month-old nephew, said the young child had gone missing.

“When the fire broke out, I gave the baby to a man. He was trying to save the baby. But now we can’t find them,” she said.

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.