At least 70 people were killed and 55 others injured as a deadly fire broke out in a densely populated residential area at Chawk Bazar in old town of Dhaka Wednesday night.
Major AKM Shakil Newaz, director (Operation and Maintenance) of Fire Service and Civil Defence, at a press briefing on the spot told reporters that a total of 70 bodies were recovered from the buildings.
Earlier, Bishwajit Kumar of Dhaka Medical College police outpost said 65 bodies reached to the morgue of the hospital till 8:00am. Among them 57 are male, five female and three children.
He also said 55 injured people are admitted to the hospital and among them 18 are in burn unit and 37 are at the emergency unit.
Dhaka South City Corporation mayor Sayeed Khokan announced closure of rescue operation at Churihatta at about 12:40pm.
The mayor said the city corporation will strictly implement ban on setting up chemical warehouse and illegal factories in Old Dhaka.
Brigadier general Ali Ahmed Khan, director general of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, earlier confirmed 45 deaths and said the number might go up as the fire fighters were still working to bring the flame under control. ‘We’re still searching different floors of the affected buildings,’ Khan said.
Among the injured, at least 16 people sustained burns while 30 others were injured while trying to escape the fire.
Fire service control room said that the fire broke out following an explosion at a chemical warehouse housed in a five-storey building at Churihatta around 10:45pm.
The fire immediately spread to another adjacent building as 37 units of fire fighters rushed the spot to contain the fire till 1:45am.
Primary reports quoting locals suggested that the fire followed an explosion.
Television channels live telecast vehicles burned down in the fire.
New Age correspondent on the spot reported to have seen fire raging through all the five storeys of the building where it was reported to have broken out.
Another nearby building was also on fire but the extent of the damage could not immediately be determined.
Clouds of smoke in the area made it difficult to notice if the fire spread further to other buildings in a neighbourhood world famous for its dense population.
Dhaka Medical College and Hospital sources said that at least two of the people admitted with burn injuries were children.
At least one of the victims had 60 per cent of his body burnt in the fire.
New Age Dhaka Medical correspondent reported that the medical premises became filled with a sudden rush of relatives of the victims and onlookers after 11:00pm.
Fire service control room said that they were trying to put out the fire till 2:00pm.
The fire brings back to mind the devastating fire that had broken at Nimtoli in the old town in 2010 killing 124 people and injuring 200 others.
Originated from a stove in a building housing combustible chemical depot, the fire spread to eight residential buildings and 20 shops rapidly.
The project taken to relocate chemical warehouses from the area to Keraniganj following the fire has been on the back burner.
Dhaka South City Corporations has not renewed trade licences of 1896 chemical warehouses in the area since 2013.
DSCC mayor Sayeed Khokon on February 19 announced that the trade licences of chemical concerns based in old Dhaka would be renewed from the day.
He, however, said that no new trade licence would be issued.
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