Thirty-nine people were dead and 72 others injured after a massive fire swept through a crowded river ferry in southern Bangladesh early Friday.

In the initial police investigation, the fire started around 3 a.m. on the MV Avijan-10, which was carrying 800 passengers off the coast of Jhalokati district on the Sugandha River.

Fire officer Kamal Uddin Bhuiyan, who led the rescue operation, said it took them nearly two hours to stop the fire which started at the engine room since the blaze engulfed 15 engines.

The ferry which is fully packed with passengers because many were returning to their homes to spend the weekend with their families and friends was traveling from Dhaka, the capital, to Barguna, about 155 miles to the south when the tragedy occurred.

According to reports, the fire immediately spread through the crowded ferry as many passengers jumped into the river to escape the flames.

In view of the deadly fire, the government set up two committees to investigate the fire and ordered them to report their findings in three days.

Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh since ferries are the leading means of transportation, especially in the southern and northeastern regions.

It was learned that in April, 25 people died after a ferry collided with another vessel and capsized outside Dhaka.

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