The crowd of relatives looking for dear ones who went missing in the deadly launch fire early Friday keeps getting larger with the rolling of time as they (relatives) are yet to know about whether their missing ones jumped into the river or were burnt to death.
The missing number stood at 37 and the death toll hit 42 as of Saturday evening, according to the police, while the Jhalakathi unit of the Red Crescent said they listed 54 as missing in the accident on the River Sugandha.
Both of the agencies said the relatives of the passengers who were aboard the ship "MV Abhijan-10" on Thursday night were still coming to enlist their missing ones and looking for in all the possible places – hospitals, burn unit, launch terminal, even on the ill-fated vessel now anchored in Jhalakathi terminal.
Apart from rescue agencies, many of the people were also searching for their missing relatives in the river, by individual efforts. Frustration and outrage appeared on their faces.
"I have come to find my son. He was coming to Barguna with his aunt. I visited the hospital, and other places but I did not find him," said Rafiqul Isalm, a relative who came to Jhalakathi Launch Terminal from Baraitola.
"I am now looking for my son in the river," he told The Business Standard.
Like Rafiqul, thousands of people crowded the launch terminal, where the burnt lunch has been anchored, on Saturday with the hope of finding their dearest, or the dead bodies.
"I lost the hope of getting my daughter and grandson. I do not know whether they jumped into the river or were burnt," said Nurul Sharif, another relative of two victims.
The relatives were seen breaking out into tears seeing the ashes on all three decks of the launch. Many of them were trying to find the bodies of their loved ones throughout the day.
The rescue operation has been operated from the terminal. Police, coast guard and other rescue agencies were continuing their operation to recover the missing bodies. The Red Crescent was volunteering them.
Joint secretary of the shipping ministry Tofayel Ahmed, also the convener of the probe committee on the incident, visited the accident spot and the burnt launch on Saturday afternoon. Other members of the committee were present at the event.
"We have visited the place – Charkathi village – where the launch first anchored, and also visited Diakul. Many of the passengers left the ship in the two places. We have collected all the information. Now, we have visited the launch to find the main cause of the fire," Tofayel said.
"We will cross-check the information. Whether the launch had a trained master or not, we will look into it," he added.
Meanwhile, a total of 78 people with burn injuries are undergoing treatment at the Sher-E-Bangla Medical College Hospital in Barishal and Jhalakathi Sadar Hospital. Some of the critical patients were sent to Dhaka.
A medical team comprising five members from the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery arrived at the Sher-E-Bangla Medical College Hospital.
Visiting the hospitals on Saturday, most of the patients were found crying for burn pain. Their attendants, however, were happy with the treatment facility. Crowds looking for missing relatives were also seen in the healthcare centres. They rushed from one bed to another to find their expected one.
"I have been checking all the patients. We will transfer the critical patients to Dhaka for advanced treatment," said Dr Nurul Alam, assistant professor of the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery.
The hospitals were working relentlessly, he added.
Meanwhile, a case of unnatural death was filed with Jhalakathi Sadar Police Station in connection with this fire incident.
Officer-in-Charge Md Khalilur Rahman at the station said, "If anyone complains, the case would be a regular criminal case."
All but five of the bodies were buried in Barguna on Saturday, after collecting and preserving the DNA sample.
A team of the CID also visited the launch on Saturday to collect samples for analysing the fire incident.