DHAKA – A massive fire at a container depot near a port city in southeastern Bangladesh killed at least 28 people and injured more than 100 others, officials and local media said on Sunday as firefighters struggled to control the blaze.
The fire at BM Inland Container Depot, a Dutch-Bangladeshi joint venture, broke out around midnight on Saturday after explosions in a container full of chemicals. The cause of the fire could not be determined immediately. The depot is located in Chittagong, 216 kilometers southeast of the capital Dhaka.
At least five firefighters were among the dead, according to Brig. General Main Uddin, Director General of Bangladesh Fire and Civil Protection. Another 15 firefighters were being treated for burn injuries, he added.
After the initial explosion, several rounds of explosions occurred as the fire continued to spread, Uddin said. Explosives experts from the Bangladesh military were called in to assist the firefighters. The blasts shattered the windows of nearby buildings and were felt up to 4 kilometers away, officials and local media reports said.
The fire brigade was still busy on Sunday to bring the fire under control.
The death toll reached 28 late Sunday morning, according to Ekattor TV station, and the region’s civil surgeon said the number could rise further. Many of the casualties occurred at Chattogram Medical College Hospital, while the rest of the bodies were recovered from the scene of the fire.
It is believed that many of the containers at the depot contained chemicals. The depot handles goods for export and import and is approximately 20 kilometers from the country’s main seaport, Chittagong.
Bangladesh has a history of industrial disasters, including factories catching fire and workers trapped inside. Monitoring groups have blamed corruption and lax enforcement for fatal incidents over the years.
Global brands that employ tens of thousands of low-wage workers in Bangladesh have come under fire in recent years to improve factory conditions. In the country’s huge garment industry, which employs about 4 million people, safety conditions have improved significantly after massive reforms, but experts say accidents could still happen unless other sectors make similar changes.
In 2012, around 117 workers died when they were trapped behind locked exits at a garment factory in Dhaka.
The country’s worst industrial disaster struck the following year when the Rana Plaza garment factory outside Dhaka collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people.
In 2019, a fire swept through a 400-year-old area of homes, shops and warehouses in the oldest part of Dhaka, killing at least 67 people. Another fire in Old Dhaka in 2010 at a house illegally storing chemicals killed at least 123 people.
In 2021, a fire at a food and drink factory outside Dhaka killed at least 52 people, many trapped by an illegally locked door inside.
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https://www.local10.com/news/world/2022/06/05/at-least-28-dead-in-fire-at-bangladesh-container-depot/ At least 28 dead in container depot fire in Bangladesh