Bangladesh fire HIGHLIGHTS: 70 dead, authorities call off rescue operation

Bangladesh fire HIGHLIGHTS: 70 dead, authorities call off rescue operation

Bangladesh fire LIVE updates: The fire initially broke out at a chemical warehouse on the ground floor of a four-storey building named Hazi Wahed Mansion behind a mosque in Old Dhaka’s Chawkbazar area and quickly spread to nearby buildings.

Bangladesh fire LIVE updates: Firefighters at the scene of a fire that broke out at a chemical warehouse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday. REUTERS

Bangladesh fire LIVE Updates: At least 70 people were killed Thursday in a fire that swept a centuries-old area of Bangladesh capital Dhaka. The fire initially broke out at a chemical warehouse on the ground floor of a four-storey building named Hazi Wahed Mansion behind a mosque in Old Dhaka’s Chawkbazar area and quickly spread to nearby buildings.

The death toll from last night jumped to 70 Thursday morning. “The number could rise further as search is continuing,” Reuters quoted Julfikar Rahman, a director of the Fire Service and Civil Defence as saying.

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Bangladesh fire: Fire officials said the death toll might rise as there were dozens of people trapped in the buildings. Follow LIVE updates here.

Authorities call off rescue operation

Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokon called off rescue operations at around 12:10pm after almost 14 hours of efforts, The Daily Star reported. 

A look back at Bangladesh's worst fire incidents

Looking back at one of the worst fires of Bangladesh, at least 123 people had died in Old Dhaka’s Nimtoli chemical warehouse eight years ago. On June 3, 2010, an electrical transformer exploded causing fire and injuring over 100 people. Similar to the incident at hand, the fire had spread enveloping several residential buildings in the area. Two days after the incident, the country observed June 5 as the day of mourning.

In another incident eight years ago, more than 100 were charred to death when a fire flared up a multi-floor Tazreen Fashion factory in the Ashulia district on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka. Some had died after jumping from the building to escape the fire. A fire official had said there was no fire exit on the outside of the building and the fire which started from the ground floor, rapidly spread through the building. An electric short circuit was suspected as the cause of the fire.

Gas cylinder may have caused fire: Bangladesh's fire service chief

Bangladesh's fire service chief Ali Ahmed stated that a gas cylinder may have caused the fire which rapidly spread through the building where chemicals were stored.

"The flames raced through four adjoining buildings, which were also used as chemical warehouses. There was a traffic jam when the fire broke out. It spread so quickly that people could not escape," news agency Reuters quoted Ahmed.

Narrow alleys, water shortage were major hurdles in dousing fire: Director (operations and maintenance) of FSCD

Narrow alleys and a shortage of water in the area were cited as major hurdles faced by the firefighters while dousing the flames, The Daily Star quoted Major AKM Shakil Newaz, Director (operations and maintenance) of Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD) as saying.

This whole fire incident was in a multi-hazardous zone, Newaz said, The Daily Star reported.

Taka 30 lakh to victims of fire as govt compensation: Bangladesh Min of Disaster Management and Relief

Minister of Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman Thursday gave Taka (Tk) 30 lakh to victims of the fire as part of government compensation, The Daily Star reported. Breaking down the sum, Tk 20 lakh was handed to victims admitted at the burnt unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) and Tk 10 lakh was given towards the burial of the deceased, The Daily Star quoted Jahidur Rahman, public relations officer of the ministry as saying.

As close neighbour, partner, we stand by people and Bangladesh govt: Ministry of External Affairs

The Ministry of External Affairs of India Thursday assured Bangladesh, its "close neighbour and partner", of its support and offered condolences to relatives of those affected by the fire.

"India is saddened by the loss of lives as a result of tragic fire in Dhaka on February 20. We offer our deepest condolences to relatives of those affected by the accident. As a close neighbour & partner, we stand by the people & the Government of Bangladesh in this hour of grief," Spokesperson of MEA Raveesh Kumar took to Twitter.

Conduct probe to find if authorities were responsible: NHRC Chairman

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque visited the site of the fire and said an investigation should be conducted to determine whether the cause of the blaze was negligence of authorities responsible to oversee people's safety, The Daily Star reported. Further, the NHRC chief said business activities are prohibited in a residential area and the commission will form a body to investigate the fire.

Govt will compensate victims, rehabilitate the affected: Bangladesh Road Transport and Bridges Minister

Bangladesh Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said the government will compensate for the victims and rehabilitate the affected, The Daily Star reported. On his visit to the site of the fire, Quader said “We have taken a lesson from this incident. We will take steps to avert similar incidents in the future,” The Daily Star quoted as saying.

Further, he assured action on the incident after the investigation by the three-member committee. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said his ministry will come forward to help the Dhaka South City Corporation and provide assistance in the probe.

Bangladesh Fire Service & Civil Defence forms three-member committee to probe fire

A three-member committee has been formed by the Fire Service and Civil Defence to investigate the fire in Old Dhaka, The Daily Star reported. The committee would comprise of Deputy Director of Operation and Maintenance of fire service Dilip Ghosh, DAD Abdul Halim and AD Salahuddin, as per The Daily Star.

Dhaka: Choppers came to rescue, sprayed water to douse fire

Few helicopters came to the aid of the firefighters Thursday morning to douse the fire that set ablaze the Chawkbazar area last night, The Daily Star reported. The choppers were seen carrying water from Buriganga River. 

Provide treatment to injured, support to families of deceased: Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Thursday asked the authorities concerned to provide proper treatment to the injured and necessary support to the families of the deceased, The Daily Star said. 

The country's English daily quoted Prime Minister's press secretary Ihsanul Karim said Hasina expressed shock and conveyed deep sympathy to the bereaved family members of the deceased.

Watch: At least 70 dead in Bangladesh fire

Saddened to hear about the tragic loss of lives: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee sends condolences

Glimpse of Old Dhaka fire which has claimed 70 lives so far

In this Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, photo, firefighters try to douse flames of a smouldering fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  (AP Photo)

The devastating fire raced through buildings in an old part of Bangladesh's capital and killed scores of people. (AP Photo)

A dead body is carried out from a burnt warehouse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, February 21, 2019. (REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain)

Locals and firefighters gather around buildings which caught fire late night in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Rehman Asad)

Death toll may rise, injured admitted in critical condition: Chief of burn unit in Dhaka Medical College Hospital

The death toll could rise as the injured people admitted are in critical condition, new agency AP quoted Samanta Lal Sen, head of a burn unit of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital as saying.

At least nine of the critically injured people were being treated in his unit,  Sen further said.

``Our teams are working there but many of the recovered bodies are beyond recognition. Our people are using body bags to send them to the hospital morgue, this is a very difficult situation,'' a control room official of the Fire Service and Civil Defense in Dhaka told news agency AP over the phone.

Meanwhile, the cause of the fire remains unknown. However, according to news agency AP quoted witnesses accounts who informed local TV stations that many gas cylinders stored at the buildings exploded back to back. The witnesses also said that the fire set off explosions in fuel tanks of some vehicles that were stuck in traffic in front of the buildings destroyed in the fire.

People jumped off building to save lives

Around 37 fire fighting units were sent to the spot, however, narrow lanes made it difficult for fire engines to reach the spot, which led to the use of long hose pipes to set off the blaze, PTI quoted fire officials as saying.

Several people had jumped off the building, resulting in injuries.

In pictures: Dhaka fire claims 70 lives so far

Volunteers recover a dead body from a burnt warehouse in Dhaka. For more pictures click here. 

Fire claimed lives of passerby, people at nearby restaurants and few members of wedding party

Apart from the people trapped inside the buildings, the witnesses accounted that the fire claimed lives of passerby, a few people who were having a meal at nearby restaurants and some members of a wedding party.

Around 50 people were rushed to Dhaka’s two major state-run facilities – Dhaka Medical College Hospital’s burn unit and Sir Salimullah Medical College, some in critical condition,  Reuters quoted Julfikar Rahman, a director of the Fire Service and Civil Defence as saying.

Death toll rises to 70

The fire in Old Dhaka which started Wednesday night has claimed 70 lives so far. The fire ignited from a four-storey building flared up to nearby buildings in the Chawkbazar area of Old Dhaka, which dates back to the Mughal period more than 300 years ago. 

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Men look at a list of people who were injured in a fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh, February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

Around 50 people were rushed to a hospital, some in critical condition, Rahman said. It took more than five hours to douse the fire, however, the area was still lit early Thursday morning.

Rahman said the firefighters had to draw water from a nearby mosque to fight the blaze as they struggled to find adequate water supplies.