According to Kamal Uddin Bhuiyan (fire officer), it took 15 fire engines to put out the flames and eight more to cool the vessel down. The ferry's blackened hull was left to rest at the river's banks. Divers continued their search for the waters, as anxious relatives gathered at the banks.
Officials said that the blaze started on the MV Avijan-10 at 3 a.m. It was carrying 800 passengers. Many were travelling to see family and friends over the weekend.
Anisur Rahman, a survivor, said that he was asleep on the deck when he woke up to hear screams and a loud sound. He also claimed that smoke came from the back of his ferry. "I, along with many others, jumped into freezing river water in thick fog and swam to riverbank.
Ferries are the most popular mode of transport in Bangladesh. The country is crossed by more than 130 rivers. Accidents involving ferry vessels are frequent, often due to overcrowding and lax safety regulations.
The ferry was travelling from Dhaka (the capital) to Barguna, which is approximately 250 km (155 miles to the south). The ferry caught fire near the Sugandha River in Jhalokati, just before the end of its journey.
Bhuiyan suggested that the fire may have been started in the engine area. The government established two investigation committees and required them to report back within three days.
25 people were killed in April when a ferry collided and capsized just outside Dhaka.