At least 70 dead in Dhaka fire that ripped through apartment blocks

Firefighters try to douse the blaze in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, February 20, 2019.

At least 70 people have been killed after a fire tore through apartment buildings in a historic part of the Bangladesh capital Dhaka, the latest such deadly blaze in the south Asian nation. The blaze broke out Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. local time in Dhaka’s Chawkbazar area, a district in old Dhaka.

Throughout the night, firefighters battled the blaze, which is believed to have started when a fuel cylinder in a car exploded. The fire then quickly spread across five buildings in the tightly-packed area including a restaurant, Ibrahim Khan, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Police told CNN.

Among the dead were customers in a nearby restaurant who were caught in the fire, said Khan. Inspector Morad Dul Islam from Chawkbazaar police station said that they do not yet have an estimate on the number of people injured but they are transferring them to nearby hospitals.

Firefighters are seen at the scene of a fire in Dhaka on February 21, 2019.

One of the structures served as a warehouse for a perfume company. Plastics and chemicals that were being stored to manufacture the perfume ignited in the blaze that destroyed two buildings. Khan said the fire is now under control.

“In the morning we were able to control the fire. The fire is now over,” he said.
A tragic history of fires Bangladesh has a history of fatal building fires, especially in factories where safety and structural standards have long been found to be inadequate.

Thirteen people were found guilty of gross negligence of safety measures and charged with “culpable homicide” after a November 2012 apparel factory fire on Dhaka’s outskirts that killedat least 117 people and spurred others to jump from the building to escape the flames.

In 2015, 13 died in a fire inside a plastic factory near the in the capital Dhaka. Two years earlier, eight people were killed in a fire at a clothing factory in May. That October at least seven peopledied in another large fire that broke out at a knitwear factory.

The 2012 collapse of the eight-story Rana Plaza factory complex in Dhaka was Bangladesh’s deadliest industrial disaster, killing 1,134 people and sparking international outcry that got Bangladesh’s garment makers and their customers to take safety seriousl
That disaster spurred widespread criticism about the state of workers rights and safety in Bangladesh.