Thursday, June 13, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Suffocation the main killer as Bailey Road death toll climbs to 46

  • A dangerous building with gas cylinders on every floor, even on the staircases
  • Inadequate safety measures
Update : 02 Mar 2024, 12:13 AM

The massive blaze in a six-storeyed building in Dhaka has resulted in the deaths of 46 people so far, while dozens of those wounded are being treated for burn wounds in government hospitals.

Multiple government agencies, including Fire Service and Civil Defense personnel, have said that the majority died from suffocation, with the condition of survivors remaining critical and the injured recounting their harrowing ordeal.

Doctors confirmed that most of the dead suffocated, with others dying as they jumped off the building to escape the flames.

Brigadier General Md Main Uddin, director general of Fire Service and Civil Defence, said that the fire could have originated from a gas leak or stove. "It was a dangerous building with gas cylinders on every floor, even on the staircases."

A number of eyewitnesses and survivors said that this year, being a leap year, people from different professions had gathered with their loved ones to enjoy food and make the last day of February memorable at the Green Cozy Cottage building’s restaurants on Bailey Road in the capital on Thursday night.

Like others, a couple, Sajia and Orhan, residents of Dhaka's Dhanmondi, went to a restaurant to enjoy some food on the sixth floor of that building after shopping that night with their son Abir.

Their relatives, speaking to Dhaka Tribune on Friday, said it was around 10:30pm when they suddenly received a call from them informing them they were stuck at the restaurant due to a fire breaking out. They could not leave their restaurant and tried to shelter on the rooftop.

Receiving their call, a family member went to the spot and tried to connect with them but failed. They found and received their dead bodies in the morning.

Recently, Abbas (a pseudonym) came to visit his family from Italy. He was supposed to return to Italy this week. He had completed the process of permanent residence in Italy with his wife and two daughters.

His relatives said the family went there to spend quality time with one another, but they all died.

“They called us to tell us of their situation, but they could not exhale and inhale while they talked with us,” he added.

Prof Ahmed Kamruzzaman Majumder had gone to the 5th-floor Zesty Restaurant of the building with his wife and two daughters to celebrate their daughter Waziha Zaman Majumder’s birthday.

Prof Majumder told Dhaka Tribune: "On the occasion of my daughter's birthday, after shopping at a shop in that building, I ordered food at 9:30pm and was chatting with my wife and two children. However, realizing that the smell of fire was spreading immediately, I warned the restaurant staff, but they did not pay attention at all."

"However, a few moments later, everyone realized that a fire had broken out, with dense smoke engulfing the place. I advised the 15 people present in that restaurant to take shelter on the roof based on experience," the professor said.

"I was stuck on the roof with my family for about one and a half hours. At one stage, it seemed like we would die today because the flames progressed slowly upwards and no rescue team could reach the roof yet," Prof. Majumder continued.

Amid such a situation, many of us decided to jump from the roof knowing that we were certain to die. Some tried to jump to the nearby building. My daughters Wazah and Waziha hugged me and said, "Baba, will we all die together today?"

"Some of the people who were having problems with breathing were given first aid with water," he added.

“Although it was the most horrible situation, with all my strength, I was then advising everyone to hold on and wait for the rescue team as the flames had not yet spread to the roof,” he added.

Later, at around 11:30pm, the fire service team arrived but they were on the opposite side. Later they broke the wall of a part of the roof and rescued us all, said the professor.

A few survivors like them shared their harrowing stories of the fire with Dhaka Tribune and expressed gratitude to the fire service and civil defence personnel for saving lives.

A survivor, businesswoman Latifa Islam said the staircase was too narrow to escape and it was crowded because everyone tried to go upstairs to reach the rooftop.

"However, another colleague and I went to the kitchen room, broke a window, and jumped to save ourselves.

"A staff member shouted to all customers to leave the restaurant. But later, we found out that the staff member had died on the floor.

Inadequate safety measures

A comparison of fire incidents in recent years shows that fire incidents have become a common occurrence in Dhaka city, where many new buildings have been built, many without adequate safety measures.

Faulty gas cylinders, air conditioners, and poor electrical wiring continue to cause fires and explosions.

Experts and stakeholders said that the garment sector has come under intense scrutiny since the 2013 Savar Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1,200 workers.

But other businesses, such as shopping malls and restaurants, which contribute to the growing domestic economy of the country, are not given much importance, they observed.

Timeline: Bailey Road fire
02 Mar 2024, 00:12
Suffocation the main killer as Bailey Road death toll climbs to 46
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