Bangladesh police on Monday arrested the owner of an overcrowded yacht that caught fire last week and killed at least 39 people, with investigators blaming the deaths on neglect of safety.
The fire broke out at midnight on Friday when many of the ferry’s 700 passengers were sleeping near the southern district of Barguna.
The survivors relayed harrowing tales of jumping into the Sugandha River from a three-story yacht, which was designed to carry only 420 people.
Most of the victims died of burns, while others drowned in cold water trying to escape.
A day after a court issued arrest warrants for eight people, including the captain and crew of Obizan-10, a police spokesman told reporters that yacht owner Hum Jalal Sheikh was arrested on Monday.
Marine police officer Mehboob Rahman said the ship did not have enough fire extinguishers and buoys to withstand a major accident in the middle of the river.
“We spoke to survivors and they said the boat’s driver kept the ship rocking for about an hour after the fire broke out in the engine room of the ship,” he told AFP.
“If they had stopped the yacht and anchored immediately, it could have saved all these valuable lives.”
Bangladesh experts blame poor maintenance, lax safety standards at shipyards and overcrowding for the South Asian nation’s frequent maritime disasters.
At least 21 people were killed in August when a boat carrying passengers collided with a cargo ship carrying sand.
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