The Bangladesh government Friday set up a seven-member committee to probe the early morning launch fire that left at least 39 people dead.
Joint secretary of the shipping ministry Tofayel Ahmed has been made the probe panel's convener, while deputy secretary Aminur Rahman will act as its member secretary, according to a notification issued by the ministry.
The committee has been asked to submit a report to the shipping ministry within three working days, it said.
Earlier in the day, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority also formed a separate six-member committee to investigate the launch fire. Md Saiful Islam, additional director of port and transportation department, will head the committee.
The government notification comes hours after the devastating fire on Avijan-10 carrying some 800 passengers from Dhaka to Barguna claimed the lives of the 39 people and left 72 others injured.
The blaze, in fact, began on Avijan-10 in the middle of the Sugandha river off the coast of Jhalokati district's Sadar upazila around 3am. Within five to 10 minutes, the flames engulfed the entire vessel.
"We were alerted around 3.30 am," Fazlul Haque of Fire Service and Civil Defence in Barishal, told UNB. However, due to dense fog in the area, the first firefighting vessels took some time to reach the ill-fated launch.
“Some 39 bodies have been recovered from the launch," said Kamruzzaman,assistant director of Jhalokathi Fire Service and Civil Defence to UNB.
Of the 72 rescued alive, 66 seriously injured passengers were admitted to the Barishal the Sher-e-Bangla Medical College (SBMC) hospital.. The ill-fated vessel has also been brought to the shore.
"In fact, Jhalokathi’s local firefighters initially tried to douse the flames and later the Barishal fire service joined them," said Kamal Uddin, Deputy Director (Barishal division) of Fire Service and Civil Defence.
Eventually some 15 fire tenders took nearly two hours to bring the blaze under control, at 5.20am, according to fire officials.
As it was Thursday, Kamal said, the launch was carrying more than 800 passengers. "Most of them jumped off the vessel and swam to the shore as the fire broke out."