A train accident has seen thousands of litres of furnace oil from six wagons pouring into the Karnaphuli river over the past two days at the Kalurghat area in the port city, blackening the surface and threatening fish resources.
When our correspondent visited the Kalurghat Bridge area Wednesday, furnace oil was found draining into the river water through the Brick Field Canal. The river water in the area and different sorts of refuse floating on the river had turned black.
Hari Prasad, a fisherman, said he and his co-workers had been seeing dead fish floating in the river since the morning.
"Even the river water smells of oil," he said.
Mohammed Idris, a Chittagong College professor who has been conducting a research on the Karnaphuli, said the contamination would have a severe impact on the biodiversity of the river.
"The authority is supposed to take necessary measures immediately," he said. Idris warned that the failure to do so may result in long-term adverse impacts for the river.
Harun-ar-Rashid, an inspector at the Department of Environment, told our correspondent that the department had not been aware of the incident till Wednesday afternoon. "We have received the news and have just started heading towards the spot," he said.
According to Bangladesh Railway, three wagons of a fuel train turned upside down and three others tilted when a the train derailed after crossing the Kalurghat Bridge on its way to the Dohazari Peaking Power Plant at about 12:45pm on Tuesday.
Sukumar Bhoumik, divisional rail manager of Railway East, told our correspondent that the wagons were carrying about 33,000 litres of furnace oil each. He added that most of the oil from the three wagons which had turned upside down had spilled out during the accident.
He said a three-member committee headed by Railway East Divisional Traffic Officer Jakir Hossain had been formed to probe the accident.
"The committee has been asked to submit its report within a week," he said.
Wahidur Rahman, divisional mechanical engineer of Railway East, said the railway officials had visited the area and their estimate was that at least 60,000 thousand litres of furnace oil had already seeped into the river.