DHAKA, Bangladesh ( Associated Press) – A massive fire broke out at a container depot near a port city in southeastern Bangladesh, killing at least 49 people, including nine firefighters, and injuring more than 100 others, officials and local officials said. The media reported on Sunday, as did extinguishing efforts. The fire continued till the second night.
A fire broke out at the Dutch-Bangladesh joint venture BM Inland Container Depot on Saturday midnight after a container filled with chemicals exploded. The cause of the fire could not be immediately ascertained. The depot is located 216 kilometers (134 mi) southeast of the capital Dhaka, near the country’s main Chittagong port.
According to the brigadier, at least nine firefighters were among the dead. General Main Uddin, Director General of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense. He said more than 10 others were undergoing treatment for burns.
Uddin said that after the initial blast, there were multiple explosions and the fire continued to spread. Explosives experts from Bangladesh’s military have been called in to assist the firefighters. Officials and local media reports said the explosions broke windows of nearby buildings and were felt up to 4 kilometers (2 mi) away.
The death toll reached 49 by Sunday evening, according to Ektor TV station, and the area’s civil surgeon said the number could still rise as the fire broke out on the second night.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed grief over the accident and ordered adequate arrangements for medical treatment of the injured.
Bangladesh has a history of industrial disasters, including fires in factories with workers trapped inside. Monitoring groups have blamed corruption and lax enforcement.
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Global brands, which employ thousands of low-wage workers in Bangladesh, have come under fire in recent years for improving factory conditions. Safety conditions have improved significantly after major reforms in the country’s vast apparel industry, which employs nearly 4 million people, but experts say accidents can still happen if similar changes are not made in other sectors.
In 2012, around 117 workers died after being trapped behind a closed exhaust at a garment factory in Dhaka.
The country’s worst industrial disaster occurred the following year, when the Rana Plaza garment factory outside Dhaka collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people.
In 2019, a fire broke out in a 400-year-old area full of apartments, shops and warehouses in the oldest part of Dhaka, killing at least 67 people. At least 123 people were killed in another fire in 2010 at a house illegally storing chemicals in old Dhaka.
In 2021, a fire at a food and beverage factory outside Dhaka killed at least 52 people, many of whom were illegally trapped inside closed doors.