Deadly fire kills over 40 in Dhaka, death toll may rise


"So far, 70 bodies have been recovered", Julfikar Rahman, a director of the Fire Service and Civil Defence, told Reuters.

The fire broke out around 10:40 p.m. local time in the Chawkbazar area of Dhaka, in an old part of the city where the streets are very narrow and many residential buildings stand just inches apart.

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.

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.

The fire in Dhaka was mostly under control after more than nine hours of frantic efforts by firefighters.

Fires and building collapses are common in the country - particularly in the multibillion-dollar garment industry - where building regulations are lax and volatile chemicals are often improperly kept.

Numerous victims were trapped in the buildings, according to reports, unable to escape the flames. An investigation later found it was caused by sabotage and that plant managers had prevented victims from escaping.

Rahman said firefighters struggled to find enough water to douse the flames and had to take it from a nearby mosque.

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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.

However, the fire in Chawkbazar broke out before the decision could be implemented, Khokon said.

About 200 firefighters had battled for more than five hours to contain the blaze in narrow lanes snaking between tightly-packed buildings in an area authorities say is home to more than 3 million people. They said the fire also set off explosions in fuel tanks of some of the vehicles that got stuck in traffic in front.

A fire swept through a nine-story garment factory near Dhaka in November 2012, killing 111 workers.

One man, whose shop was destroyed in the fire, explained that he had narrowly escaped the blaze when he left to go to a pharmacy.

At least 69 people have died in a huge blaze that tore through apartment buildings also used as chemical warehouses in an old part of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, fire officials said Thursday.

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.