A cruise ship leaving Patenga for Saint Martin’s Island on Thursday evening survived a fire incident after a two-hour journey in the Bay of Bengal. Luckily it didn’t see a fatality.
However, the 800 tourists aboard the ship – MV Bay One – returned to the Patenga coast after 13 hours of a traumatic experience.
They said the negligence of the shipping authorities had put their lives in danger; It first tried to hide the information about the fire incident and sailed on. The ship later returned to Patenga despite their protests.
“It was about 12:30 a.m. There was a concert on the ship. Suddenly we noticed smoke inside the ship and got the news of the fire incident in the engine room,” said Lutful Kabir, one of the ship’s passengers.
Everyone began to panic to manage life jackets and save lives, he explained, adding that the fire was under control moments later.
“We, a team of 80, went to Saint Martin. However, our trip turned into a misery. With God’s blessings we are still alive,” said Ahmed Rashid, another passenger on the ship, adding that the ship’s firefighting system was not good enough, which was a must.
“We were absolutely terrified. The authorities didn’t even give us safety instructions. They didn’t support us with protective gear,” said Safayet Ullah, who was traveling with his wife.
Another passenger, Aminul Haque, also a human rights activist, told TBS that the incident happened near Kutubdia and about 17 nautical miles from Chattogram. Fortunately, the ship was able to anchor near the shore around 1 a.m.
Later, a tugboat came from Chattogram Port the next morning and helped the surviving ship return. The ship reached Patenga on Friday noon, he added.
Former railway minister Mujibul Haque and his family also cruised on the ship. Echoing other passengers, he told The Business Standard that everyone panicked when they saw the smoke from the fire.
“Several passengers helped put out the fire. One passenger was slightly injured,” he added.
The minister said the passengers were not ready to continue the journey, so authorities would have to return to Chattogram.
Meanwhile, Bay One shipping authorities briefed media on the incident on Friday afternoon in Chattogram.
It explained that the engine room had a small problem and was fixed. At one point, part of the engine shorted out, causing a minor fire incident. Sailing on is possible later, it was said.
“The fire only lasted five minutes. However, we did not sail any further at the request of the passengers,” said Md Hossain, the ship’s captain.
He said there was no weakness in their fire suppression system. “We also helped the passengers all the time.”
In the briefing, the ship authorities said that passengers can travel again with the same tickets.
“We hope that the ship will be operational again within a day. Everyone is welcome back,” said Bay One Chief Executive Officer Sanowar Hossain.
Imported from Japan, the 30-year-old ship was launched on February 14 last year on the Patenga-Saint Martin route.