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Devastating Fire in Bangladesh Killed At Least 70 People

DHAKA, Bangladesh – Devastating fires hit heavily populated buildings in an old part of the Bangladeshi capital and killed at least 70 people, officials and witnesses said, daily Telegraph reported Thursday.
The fire in Dhaka was largely under control after more than nine hours of unbridled firefighting. About fifty wounded were badly burned.
The Chawkbazar region is full of buildings separated by narrow streets. The neighborhood is a mix of residential and commercial, with buildings that typically have shops, restaurants or warehouses on the ground floor.
The fire started late Wednesday night in a building, but quickly spread to others, the fire chief executive, Brig. General Ali Ahmed said.
The death toll has risen to 70, and many victims are stranded inside the buildings, said Mahfuz Riben, head of the fire and civil defense control room in Dhaka.
Our teams are working there, but a lot of found bodies are no longer recognized, and our staff are using body bags to send them to the hospital morgue, he said.
Some floors of destroyed buildings contained chemicals and plastic.
Most buildings are used for residential and commercial purposes despite warnings that a fire caused a death toll of at least 123 people in 2010. The authorities had promised to regulate buildings and to remove chemical warehouses from residential buildings.
Samanta Lal Sen, head of a burn treatment unit at Dhaka University Hospital, said the death toll could rise further as the health of some of the injured was critical.
Sen said at least nine of the seriously wounded were being treated in his unit.
Witnesses told local TV stations that many of the gas cylinders stored in the buildings continued to explode one after the other. They added that the fire had also caused explosions in the fuel tanks of some vehicles stuck in traffic in front of the destroyed buildings.
Some reports suggest that many of the dead were pedestrians, buyers or diners who died quickly when several bottles of gas exploded and fire engulfed nearby buildings very quickly.
Officials said firefighters struggled to get close to the scene because of the heavy traffic and narrow lanes that were occupied at the beginning of the fire.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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