In Brief

Dhaka fire: at least 78 dead in Bangladesh blaze

Blaze at apartments used for illegal chemical storage follows repeat calls for action by authorities

At least 78 people have been killed in a fire that tore through apartments also being used to store flammable chemicals in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, according to officials.

The blaze began at around 10:30pm local time on Wednesday in Chawkbazar, described by CNN as a historic district “with sprawling narrow streets and densely-packed buildings”.

The fire is believed to have started when a fuel cylinder stored in a car exploded. Flames then quickly spread to a nearby restaurant and five buildings, police said.

A traffic jam in the street outside the buildings blocked many exits, trapping people inside.

The apartments are believed to have contained storage units filled with “chemicals, body sprays and plastic granules”, which further fuelled the flames, The Guardian reports.

Firefighters battled through the night to control the blaze.

This morning Bangladesh’s fire service chief Ali Ahmed said the fire had been extinguished, but warned that the death toll was likely to rise. 

“The number of bodies may increase,” he said. “The search is still going on.”

The BBC reports that large building fires “are relatively common” in the densely populated cities of Bangladesh, “owing to lax safety regulations and poor conditions”. 

Bangladesh-based website BDNews24 says that this week’s tragedy should serve as “another wake-up call” for the authorities, who have faced calls to remove chemical warehouses from Old Dhaka since a massive fire in the Nimtali district in 2010 claimed more than 100 lives.

Two years ago, Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Mohammad Sayeed Khokon vowed the chemicals warehouses would be relocated from Old Dhaka, “but there has been little visible progress on the matter”, the site adds.

Recommended

Tech tiffs, shipping shortages and mammoth science projects
Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes
Podcast

Tech tiffs, shipping shortages and mammoth science projects

Quiz of The Week: 11 - 17 September
New Foreign Secretary Liz Truss departs No. 10
Quizzes and puzzles

Quiz of The Week: 11 - 17 September

Joe Biden: ‘a default president at the helm of a middling administration’
Joe Biden
In Brief

Joe Biden: ‘a default president at the helm of a middling administration’

‘Backlash over deal’
Today's newspaper front pages
Today’s newspapers

‘Backlash over deal’

Popular articles

Doctor says we should not sleep naked because of flatulent spraying
The feet of a person sleeping in a bed
Tall Tales

Doctor says we should not sleep naked because of flatulent spraying

World’s most extreme weather events in 2021
Wildfire in Greece
In pictures

World’s most extreme weather events in 2021

The man tasked with putting a price on 9/11’s lost lives
Kenneth Feinberg at a Congressional hearing
Profile

The man tasked with putting a price on 9/11’s lost lives

The Week Footer Banner