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Ferry fire kills dozens in southern Bangladesh

A massive fire swept through a crowded river ferry in southern Bangladesh early Friday, leaving at least 37 dead and 72 injured, as passengers jumped off the vessel and swam to the shore, officials said.

Vessel was carrying 800 passengers on the Sugandha River

A burnt passenger ferry is seen anchored off the coast of Jhalokati district on the Sugandha River in Bangladesh on Friday. At least 37 passengers were killed and many others injured after a fire swept through the ferry on the southern Sugandha River. (The Associated Press)

A massive fire swept through a crowded river ferry in southern Bangladesh early Friday, leaving at least 37 dead and 72 injured, as passengers jumped off the vessel and swam to the shore, officials said.

The blaze broke out around 3 a.m. local time on the MV Avijan-10 off the coast of Jhalokati district on the Sugandha River.

The United News of Bangladesh news agency quoted fire officer Kamal Uddin as saying the ferry was carrying 800 passengers from Dhaka, the capital, to Barguna, nearly 250 kilometres to the south.

Police officer Khalilur Rahman said 48 of the 72 people rescued were admitted to a government hospital with burns. At least 37 bodies have been recovered.

A girl rescued from the ferry fire is treated at a government medical hospital in Barishal, Bangladesh, on Friday. (Niamul Rifat/The Associated Press)

The rescue mission is ongoing and the casualties are likely to go up, said fire officer Fazlul Haque.

There was no word on what caused the fire.

Ferry accidents are common and are often blamed on overcrowding and lax rules in Bangladesh, which is criss-crossed by about 130 rivers. Ferries are a leading means of transportation, especially in the southern and northeastern regions.

In April, 25 people died after a ferry collided with another vessel and capsized outside Dhaka.

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