Writ seeks Tk50 lakh for dead and Tk20 lakh for injured as compensation
Two more cases have been filed against MV Obhijan 10 owner Hamjalal Sheikh for the tragic deaths of at least 41 people and injuries to dozen others due to negligence.
A good number of people boarding the Bargua-bound launch carrying over 800 passengers has still remained missing.
The fitness certificate and registration of the launch and the master-driver’s certificate have been suspended after the filing of a case by the Department of Shipping with the Marine Court, said its Director General Commodore AZM Jalal Uddin.
Meanwhile, Lt Col Zillur Rahman, a director of the Fire Service, after visiting the charred launch in Jhalakathi said that many deaths could have been avoided had the Barguna-bound launch been anchored as soon as the blaze erupted at 3am on Friday.
The probe body has also found that the launch did not have adequate fire-safety measures.
Earlier on Saturday, another unnatural death case was filed over the incident.
In the case filed by the Department of Shipping, charges have been brought for not having adequate fire extinguishers, life-saving buoys and sandboxes; and for unauthorized placement of drums loaded with diesel, gas stoves and cylinders for cooking outside the engine room.
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One of the survivors of the launch fire, Barguna native Dr Shahadat Hossain said this is a common scenario on most of the ships operating on the route.
“The authorities concerned have always been overlooking these mismanagements regarding public safety. Where can we go then?” he said.
Arrest warrant issued against owner
The Marine Court issued an arrest warrant against the launch owner, Hamjalal Sheikh, and seven others in the case filed by Chief Inspector of the Department of Shipping Md Shafiqur Rahman.
They will file a supplementary case after the Shipping Ministry’s investigation report arrives.
Shafiqur said they found that the launch is owned by four people including Hamjalal.
The other owners are Shamim Ahmed, Rasel Ahmed, and Ferdous Hasan.
Others accused in the case are Master in-Charge Riaz Ahmed, Master Khalilur Rahman, Driver in-Charge Masum Billah, and Driver Abul Kalam.
Another case in Barguna
Advocate Nazmul Islam Nasir, chairman of Baliatoli Union Parishad of Barguna district, filed another case at Barguna Chief Judicial Magistrate Court against the owner and 24 others.
Barguna Chief Judicial Magistrate Mohammad Mahbub Alam accepted the case and asked the police station concerned to take the complaint as a “First Information Report (FIR)”, said administrative official of the court Akhter Hossain, reports UNB.
Saifur Rahman Sohag, a lawyer of the plaintiff, said it is clear that there was negligence on the part of the owner and staff of the launch.
Advocate Nazmul Islam Nasir demanded immediate arrest of the accused in the case.
The probe body formed by the Shipping Ministry interviewed several eyewitnesses of the tragedy.
Tofayel Hossain, head of the committee, said that they could not talk to any staff of the launch.
“We have visited the launch several times. Primarily, we suspect that the fire erupted from the engine room and then spread across it for other reasons.
“The probe is still going on. We can’t provide any concrete information now. But we are trying our best to unearth the reason.”
A writ petition has been filed with the High Court seeking its directions on the authorities concerned to ensure payment of Tk50 lakh for the families of the dead and Tk20 lakh for the injured in last week’s launch fire.
Advocate Eunus Ali Akond, a Supreme Court lawyer, filed the writ petition to the officials concerned of the High Court on Sunday.
The writ petition will be presented before the bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman for hearing on Monday.
At the same time, the writ also sought the court’s directives to initiate a judicial inquiry to find out the reason behind the blaze.
Also Read – Launch owner, 24 others sued over deadly fire
The owner of the launch, secretary of the Shipping Ministry, and chairman of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) have been made respondents in the petition.
The petition also sought a rule to explain as to why the respondents should not be directed to take necessary steps to arrange the compensation.
At the same time, the petition prayed for an interim order on the respondents to give the families of the deceased Tk10 lakh and Tk5 lakh for the treatment of the fire injured immediately.
Situation at Dhaka, Barisal hospitals
At present, 39 fire victims, including two in ICU, are receiving treatment at Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital (SBMCH), said its Director Dr AH Saiful Islam.
All the patients have been admitted to the Eye Department. “None of them have more than 12% burn injuries.”
Meanwhile, of the 15 launch fire victims still receiving treatment at Dhaka’s Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery, four are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), two in the High-Dependency Unit (HDU), and nine are in post-operative care.
Search goes on
The rescue operation in the Sugandha River continued for the third consecutive day on Sunday to locate the missing passengers.
The divers from local fire service and Coast Guard resumed the search operation in the morning and it is still continuing, said Khalilur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Sadar police station in Jhalakathi district.
Until filing of the report at 10pm on Sunday, no new bodies were recovered from the river nor any missing passengers found as anxious families kept waiting for their loved ones at Municipal Mini Park and on the bank of the river.
The Jhalakathi unit of the Red Crescent Society has collected a list of 51 people missing from the information provided by their family members, said Imran, a volunteer from the organization, reports UNB.
Meanwhile, the police control room set up at the launch terminal reported getting information of 47 missing passengers so far, said Md Salauddin, Sub-Inspector of Jhalakathi Sadar police station.
Earlier, the bodies of 23 people were buried at Patkakhali mass graveyard following a namaz-e-janaza in Barguna on Saturday.