Dhaka fire kills 70 as explosions rain fire on the streets


At least 81 people have been killed by a blaze that tore through apartment buildings in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka after chemicals being stored in tightly packed buildings caught fire.

The inferno started in a building where chemicals for deodorants and other household uses were stocked amid apartments.

Originated from a stove in a building housing combustible chemical depot, the fire spread to eight residential buildings and 20 shops rapidly.

Bangladesh's fire service chief Ali Ahmed said the blaze may have started with a gas cylinder before spreading through the building where chemicals were stored.

Bangladesh's deadliest industrial blaze was in June 2010, when 117 people died in a fire that ripped through one of Dhaka's most densely populated areas.

Hundreds of people rushed to the hospital looking for missing relatives.

He said firefighters had struggled to find enough water to fight the blaze and had to draw supplies from a nearby mosque.

The case involves between 10 and 12 people wanted on suspicion of "causing death through negligence" in the Wednesday night fire in Dhaka's Chawkbazar district, said Ibrahim Khan, a deputy commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

Such tragedies are shockingly common in Bangladesh, where fires, floods, ferry sinkings and other disasters regularly claim dozens of lives or more. Witnesses said the victims also included passersby and some people who were eating food at a nearby restaurants.

"I turned back and saw the whole street in flames. Flames were everywhere", he told AFP.

AKM Shakil Newaz, said 70 dead have been recovered and were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

Some of the warehouses consumed by the flames stored unsafe products, including highly combustible chemicals, body sprays and plastic granules, all of which exacerbated the fire, The Guardian reported.

Mr Rahman said at least 50 people had been taken to hospital, some in critical condition.

In 2012, a fire raced through a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, killing at least 112 people trapped behind its locked gates.

Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokon and local MP Haji Md Salim paid a visit to the market place and monitored the situation after receiving information from the fire officials.