Panic gripped some 800 passengers of a Saint Martin Island-bound luxury cruise ship on Friday midnight after thick smoke filled areas of the vessel, prompting its operator to anchor mid-sea.
The decision to halt MV Bay-1 was, in fact, taken after its crew noticed smoke in the engine room -- possibly due to a flash fire -- around 12am, nearly two hours of the ship leaving the Patenga terminal in Chattogram for the island, a popular holiday destination.
"The thick smoke from the engine room soon engulfed areas of the ship, triggering chaos on board. The operator was quick to switch off the engine," one of the stranded passengers told UNB over the phone.
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"The ship remains anchored mid-sea off the coast of Kutubdia upazila. I heard a rescue ship is on its way," said Aminul Haque Babu, a human rights activist travelling on the ship.
However, Sea Cruise Operator Owners’ Association of Bangladesh attributed the incident to excess engine oil leak. "The ship operator made the right decision to halt it," said Hossain Islam Bahadur, general secretary of the Association.
"Former railways minister Mujibul Haque Mujib is on the ship," he added.
Despite repeated attempts, the ship management could not be contacted.