VIDEO: 9 firefighters among 49 dead in Bangladesh cargo depot fire - GulfToday

VIDEO: 9 firefighters among 49 dead in Bangladesh cargo depot fire


Firefighters carry the body of a victim from the site after a fire broke out at a container storage facility in Sitakunda, Chittagong, on Sunday. AFP

A massive fire at a container depot near a port city in southeastern Bangladesh killed at least 49 people, including nine firefighters, and injured more than 100 others, officials and local media reported Sunday, as efforts to extinguish the blaze continued into a second night.

The inferno at the BM Inland Container Depot, a Dutch-Bangladesh joint venture, broke out around midnight Saturday following explosions in a container full of chemicals. The cause of the fire could not be immediately determined.

The depot is located near country's main Chittagong Seaport, 216 kilometres southeast of the capital, Dhaka.

At least nine firefighters were among the dead, according to Brig. Gen. Main Uddin, director general of the Bangladesh fire service and civil defense. More than 10 others were being treated for burns, he added.

Multiple rounds of explosions occurred after the initial blast as the fire continued to spread, Uddin said. Explosives experts from Bangladesh's military have been called in to assist the firefighters. The explosions shattered the windows of nearby buildings and were felt as far as 4 kilometres away, officials and local media reports said.

The death toll reached 49 by Sunday evening, according to Ekattor TV station, and the area's civil surgeon said the number could still rise as the fire raged for a second night.


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her shock at the accident and ordered adequate arrangement for medical treatment of the injured.


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The fire started late on Saturday at the huge depot in Sitakunda storing around 4,000 containers, many of them filled with garments destined for Western retailers, about 40 kilometres from the major southern port of Chittagong.

Then containers holding chemicals exploded, engulfing firefighters, journalists and others in an inferno, hurtling people and debris through the air, turning the night sky a blazing orange and rattling buildings kilometres away.

An injured victim is brought to a hospital at Sitakund, near the port city Chittagong, on Sunday. Reuters

The death toll could rise as some of the injured are in critical condition, said Chittagong civil surgeon Mohammed Elias Hossain. The injured included firefighters and policemen, he said.

He urged all doctors in the district to help tackle the situation and called for emergency blood donations.


It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze. Fire service officials said they suspect it may have originated from a container of hydrogen peroxide and spread quickly to other containers.

Bangladesh has a history of industrial disasters, including factories catching fire with workers trapped inside. Monitoring groups have blamed corruption and lax enforcement.


Global brands, which employ tens of thousands of low-paid workers in Bangladesh, have come under fire to improve factory conditions in recent years.

In the country's massive garment industry, which employs about 4 million people, safety conditions have improved significantly after massive reforms, but experts say accidents could still occur if other sectors do not make similar changes.



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