Firefighters, army douse massive fire in Bangladesh market
Firefighters and army personnel have extinguished a fire that ripped through a crowded shopping complex in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka early on Tuesday, injuring several firefighters and burning down some 5,000 stores.
The complex hosts some 3,000 shops in the Bangabazar area, home to the country's famed cloth markets. The blaze broke out in the early hours before businesses had opened and spread to neighbouring outlets, officials said.
Most of the stores, which were fully stocked ahead of the festival of Eid later this month, were burnt to the ground in the blaze, fire official Rashid Bin Khalid told Reuters.
Images from the scene show black smoke billowing from the burning complex, with bystanders, including children, forming a human chain to pass plastic containers of water to help the firefighters.
"I have never seen such a fire in my life. Everything in my shop was burnt down," Abdul Mannan said, breaking down in tears while talking to his relatives on his phone.
Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence Director, Brigadier General Main Uddin, told reporters that several firefighters had been injured, two of them critically.
He said his department had declared the market and surrounding buildings as "risky" in 2019, but that "businesses didn’t pay heed to the warnings". He did not elaborate whether his department had taken any other action to ensure compliance with fire safety norms apart from issuing the warnings.
A committee would be formed to investigate the cause of the fire, he added.
Intense scrutiny of Bangladesh and the major international clothing retailers that manufacture in the country has helped prevent further disasters in the garment sector since a fire in 2012 and a building collapse in 2013 together killed more than 1,200 workers.
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