At least 69 people were killed after a devastating fire broke out in apartment buildings also used as chemical warehouses in an old part of the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, a fire official said on Thursday. “So far we have recovered 69 bodies. The number of bodies may increase. The search is still going on,” Bangladesh’s fire service chief Ali Ahmed told AFP.
He said the blaze at Chawkbazar in the old part of Dhaka might have originated from a gas cylinder before quickly spreading through the building where highly flammable chemicals were stored.
The flames raced through four adjoining buildings, which were also used as chemical warehouses, including for storing plastic granules and body sprays.
“There was a traffic jam when the fire broke out. So people could not escape,” he said, describing a part of town where the streets are very narrow.
Another fire official told reporters that the blaze, which began around 10.40 pm (16:40 GMT) on Wednesday, has been “confined” but not yet doused despite the efforts of more than 200 firefighters.
“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.
A police inspector at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital said at least 45 people were injured, including four people whose conditions were very critical.
A similar fire 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 tragedies in Dhaka.