Seventy people have lost their lives and 56 are injured in a massive fire in Bangladesh that has engulfed several multi-storey buildings in the Chawkbazar area of Old Dhaka.
The fire had begun at a chemical storehouse on the ground floor of the building. The narrow roads of the old town and the concentration of chemical and plastic factories and storages turned into firefighters’ nightmare late on Wednesday as they tried to limit casualties after the fire began at 10.35 p.m.
The fire-fighters managed to douse the flame by 3 a.m. nearly five hours after it broke out and engulfed the Haji Wahed Mansion at Nanda Kumar Lane in Chawkbazar’s Churihatta, Dhaka Tribune said.
The devastation was so huge that the mansion housing a warehouse of plastic products appeared to be tilted around 1.45 a.m., the media report said.
Earlier, a Fire Service Control Room official Mahfuz Riben confirmed the death of 69 people to the newspaper. “We have so far recovered all 69 bodies,” Riben had said, an hour before one more body was recovered.
The Dhaka Metropolitan Police said the blaze spread rapidly due to multiple chemical godowns situated in the area. Fire Service Deputy Director Dilip Kumar Ghosh confirmed that the fire was finally doused completely around 3 a.m.
The death toll in the devastating inferno will rise, warned fire officials, who have been working throughout the night to douse the devastating blaze that first broke out in a three-storey building situated at the intersection of roads leading to Rahmatganj, Churihatta and Chawkbazar areas.
Numerous people, including women and children, were also injured and admitted to nearby hospitals, including Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) and Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital (Mitford Hospital).
“Our priority right now is to douse the fire completely and tend to the wounded,” Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokon said.
Khokon and MP Haji M. Salim who had rushed to the spot, however, did not respond to questions about the warehouses in the buildings in Old Dhaka where chemicals are kept in unsafe conditions.
Wednesday night’s fire reminded many Old Dhaka residents of the Nimtoli fire tragedy that took place barely one kilometre from the spot on June 3, 2010 and killed at least 124 people.
In the last nine years though there has been little progress made in addressing the issues that led to the Nimtoli fire, or many smaller subsequent fires that took place, the media report added.