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11 burnt alive as boat catches fire

Zaman Monir . Sylhet

At least 11 people, including 5 children, were burnt to death and more than 40 were injured as a engine boat caught fire in Surma River at Chhatak upazila in Sunamganj on Monday night.
Five more children remained missing till Tuesday afternoon, sources in the local administration said.
Chhatak upazila police officer-in-charge Shahjalal Munsi said 11 bodies were recovered while the rescue operation continued.
He said one of the deceased was identified as Rokeya Begum, 30, of Doarabazar upazila in Sunamganj.
‘Identity of the rest 10 bodies could not be established as they were charred in the fire,’ the police officer said.   
Local sources said that the trawler carrying more than 100 day-labourers and their children started from Bholaganj stone quarry at Companiganj upazila in Sylhet on Monday evening for Itna upazila in Kishorganj.
The fire initiated from a kerosene-cooker on the boat at around 8:30pm when it reached at Bethura under Noarai union of Chhatak upazila, the sources said.
The fire engulfed other parts of the boat, which was packed with huge flammable goods like baggage of the passengers, leaving at least 11 people burnt alive and some 40 others injured.
Quoting the survivors, locals said the passengers panicked in the fire jumped into the river and many of them went missing.
Local resident Aftab Ali said that about 60 victims managed to swim to the riverbank and the rests went missing.
‘Around 25 people, who went missing, were rescued till Tuesday morning and sent them to the Sylhet Osmani Medical College Hospital and local hospitals,’ Aftab said.
Chhatak upazila nirbahi officer Ainun Aktar Panna said that more than 50 of the rescued people were kept at homes at neighbouring villages.
‘The bodies were buried at the graveyard of Bethura village after collecting their samples for DNA tests,’ she said, adding that Rokeya’s body was handed over to her family members in the afternoon.   
‘Rokeya’s father was also given Tk 25,000 from the government fund for her burial,’ Ainun added.
She said a diving team of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority from Dhaka went to join the rescue operation in the morning, but they could not reach the spot still 5:00pm on Tuesday.  
Sylhet fire service senior station manager Zaved Hossain Md Tarek, who led the rescue operation begun Monday night, said that they already completed the search into the boat.
He said that the rescue operation was postponed at around 3:00pm and it would be resumed after arrival of the BIWTA team.
Sunamganj deputy commissioner Yamin Chowdhury said that step would be taken to control the movement of water
vessels in night time to cheek recurrence of such incident. 

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