Inferno kills at least 70 in Dhaka apartment blocks, Latest World News - The New Paper

Inferno kills at least 70 in Dhaka apartment blocks

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DHAKAAt least 70 people were killed when fire tore through crumbling apartment blocks in a historic part of Dhaka, setting off a chain of explosions and a wall of flames down nearby streets, officials said yesterday.

It started in one building where chemicals for deodorants and other household uses were illegally stored, and spread at lightning speed to four nearby buildings, the fire service said.

People became trapped by the flames at a nearby bridal party and a restaurant. TV images showed the gates to one building were chained up so residents were unable to escape.

Traffic jams in the clogged narrow streets held up the rescue operation.

Bangladesh fire chief Ali Ahmed said at least 70 people were killed but that the toll would likely rise.

"The number of bodies may increase. The search is still going on," he told AFP.

Doctors said at least 10 of the scores of people injured were in critical condition.

Firefighters, who took almost 12 hours to bring the fire under control, went through the blackened floors of the building, littered with spray cans, looking for bodies.

The fire started at about 10.40pm Singapore time on Wednesday at Chawkbazar in the old Mughal part of the capital.


Mr Ahmed said it may have been started by a gas cylinder and quickly spread through the building where chemicals were stored in rooms alongside the apartments.

Chemicals used for household products were also stored in the nearby buildings. They exploded as the fire spread, witnesses said.

Another fire official told reporters after the blaze had been brought under control that it had not yet been extinguished despite the efforts of more than 200 firefighters. - AFP