Fire in Bangladesh: 70 dead as chemical store set ablaze in Dhaka
New Delhi : Close to 70 people have died in a massive fire that tore through apartment buildings also used as chemical warehouses in an old part of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, fire officials said Thursday.
As the flames cover the buildings, dozens of people were trapped, unable to escape onto narrow streets clogged with traffic, as the highly combustible stores of chemicals, body sprays and plastic granules erupted in flames.
Fire control room official Mahfuz Riben told AFP that 70 people have been killed while Bangladesh's fire service chief Ali Ahmed said the death toll could increase with time.
"The number of bodies may increase. The search is still going on," he told AFP.
Ahmed said the flame at Chawkbazar in the old part of the city may have started with a gas cylinder before quickly spreading through a building where chemicals were stored. The fire spread through four adjoining buildings, which were also used as chemical warehouses.
"There was a traffic jam when the fire broke out. It spread so quickly that people could not escape," he said
Meanwhile, sources confirmed that "There was a traffic jam when the fire broke out. It spread so quickly that people could not escape," he said
"It will take time. This is not like any other fire," he said, adding the inferno became so devastating due to the "highly combustible" chemicals stored there.
Witnesses said members of a bridal party in a nearby community centre were also caught in the fire and many of them were injured.
Deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Ibrahim Khan said at least two cars and 10 cycle rickshaws were burned in the fire.
"The victims included passersby, some people who were restaurant at a restaurants and some members of the bridal party," he said.
Bacchu Mia, a police inspector at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital said at least 45 people were injured, including four who were in critical condition.
Hundreds of people rushed to the hospital to look for missing relatives.
A similar blaze in 2010 in an old Dhaka building, which was also used as a chemical warehouse, killed more than 120 people in one of the worst fire-related disasters in Dhaka.
Dhaka city authorities launched a crackdown on chemical warehouses in residential areas following the blaze, but efforts to rein in the practice have waned in recent years.