• Thursday, Apr 25, 2019
  • Last Update : 04:04 am

Chawkbazar fire: Death toll rises to 70

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Fire-fighters continue working at site of accident in Haji Wahed Mansion at Nanda Kumar Lane in Chawkbazar’s Churihatta area of Old Dhaka on Thursday, February 21, 2019 Syed Zakir Hosain/Dhaka Tribune

The death toll in the devastating fire is likely to rise further 

Highlights

-  Fire has been doused

- Fire began from a grocery shop when the gas cylinder of a CNG-driven pickup truck exploded in front of the shop

- Several people are being treated at DMCH, Mitford

-BAF helicopters used to douse Chawkbazar fire

At least 70 people have been killed in a massive fire that has engulfed several multi-storey buildings at Nanda Kumar Lane in Chawkbazar’s Churihatta area of Old Dhaka.  

At 9:36am Thursday, Dhaka Fire Service Control room official Mizanur confirmed the death of 70 people to the Dhaka Tribune.   

Around 11am, Maj AKM Shakil Nawaz, director (Operations and Maintenance) of Fire Service and Civil Defence, told the Dhaka Tribune that the fire has been doused.

While visiting the spot, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told the media that the fire has been brought under control completely.  Road, Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader also visited the spot in the morning.

According to the Fire Service control room, 37 units from 31 stations are working to douse the blaze.

Muradul Islam, officer-in-charge (investigation) of Chawkbazar police station, said 67 bodies have been kept at the morgue. Of which, 58 are men; five women and the rest of them are children. 

He said so far, they have been able to identify 19 of the victims. 

Besides, six people were treated at Mitford Hospital. Of them, two were admitted to the hospital. 


Also Read- BAF helicopters used to douse Chawkbazar fire


According to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) registrar a total of 56 people were treated at the hospital. Of which, nine are currently admitted to the hospital.   

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) officials around 8:31am said the fire spread rapidly due to the multiple chemical godowns that were situated in the area.  

Fire Service Director General Brig Gen Ali Ahmed said the fire initially spread to the godowns from a grocery shop that caught fire after the gas cylinder of a CNG-driven pickup truck exploded near the shop.

Fire gutted building at Chawkbazar area of Dhaka on February 21, 2019 |Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune The death toll will rise, warned fire officials, who have been working throughout the night to douse the devastating fire that first started on a three-storey building situated at the intersection of roads leading to Rahmatganj, Churihatta and Chawkbazar areas around 10:35pm on Wednesday.

The building, named Haji Wahed Mansion, housed a warehouse of plastic products. Following the massive fire, around 1:45am Thursday, the building was also seen in a tilted position.

Numerous people, including women and children, were also injured and admitted to nearby hospitals, including Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) and Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital (Mitford Hospital).

Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokon and local MP Haji Md Salim rushed to the scene and were seen coordinating fire-fighting and rescue efforts.

“Our priority right now is to douse the fire completely and tend to the wounded,” Khokon said, but did not respond to questions from journalists about the warehouses in the buildings in Old Dhaka where chemicals are kept in unsafe conditions.

Wednesday night’s fire reminded many Old Dhaka residents of the Nimtoli fire tragedy that took place on June 3, 2010 and had killed at least 124 people.

Shadows of Nimtoli horror

For Dhaka residents, especially those of the old town, the fire in Chawkbazar brings back the terrifying memories of another that took place almost a decade ago. On June 5, 2010, in Nimtoli, a mere 1km from this spot, a blazing inferno took the lives of 124 people.

A firefighter seen working at the accident site at Chawkbazar area of Dhaka on February 21, 2019 |Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune The fire began at a chemical storehouse, at the ground floor of a residential building.

The narrow roads of the old town and the concentration of chemical and plastic factories and storages are a firefighters' nightmare. But little progress has been made in addressing the issues that led to the Nimtoli fire, or many smaller subsequent fires that took place in the last nine years.