Bangladesh: Deadly fire and explosions at container facility | News


Fires and explosions have hit a container manufacturing facility near the port city of Chittagong, and doctors say the death toll could rise as some of the injured are in critical condition.

At least 43 people have been killed and more than 300 injured after a massive fire swept through a container depot in southeastern Bangladesh, according to a senior official.

The fire broke out at a container facility on Saturday night in Sitakunda, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the port city of Chittagong, causing multiple explosions, officials said.

“The death toll has risen to 43,” Elias Chowdhury, Chittagong’s chief doctor, told Al Jazeera. He added that more than 300 people were injured in the fire and subsequent explosions.

Earlier, Chowdhury told AFP news agency: “The death toll is expected to increase as some of the injured are in critical condition.

Six firefighters were among the dead, Brigadier General MD Main Uddin, director general of the Fire and Civil Defense Agency, told Al Jazeera.

At least 21 firefighters, who were on the scene trying to put out the blaze, were injured.

They were injured in secondary explosions.

INTERACTIVE_Bangladesh_Depot_fire_JUNE5_2022 1030
(Al Jazeera)

What caused the fire?

The explosions shook the neighborhood and shattered the windows of nearby houses, local residents said.

“I am standing inside the warehouse. The explosion only threw me about 10 meters (yards) from where I was standing. My arms and legs were burned,” said truck driver Tofael Ahmed.

Mohammad Ali, 60, who has a grocery store nearby, said the blast was so loud that it shook residential buildings a few kilometers away.

Police said firefighters were still working to put out the blaze on Sunday morning.

Tanvir Chaudhury’s Al Jazeera, reporting from Dhaka, said efforts were underway to avoid explosions of containers containing chemical substances.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. Fire officials said they suspect it may have originated in a container of hydrogen peroxide and spread rapidly to other containers.

According to the local press, around 5,000 containers are at the BM Inland Container Depot, which handles export and import cargo.

Chaudhury said security measures at industrial facilities have improved since Rana Plaza disaster in 2013, but chemical plants located near towns still pose risks to residents as well as workers.

Civil surgeon Chittagong Mohammed Elias Hossain appealed to all the doctors in the district to help deal with the situation and called for an urgent blood donation.

Faisal Mahmud Contribution from Dhaka

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