At Least 49 Dead in 2nd Day of Bangladesh Cargo Depot Fire

DHAKA, Bangladesh — A massive fire at a container depot near a port city in southeastern Bangladesh killed at least 49 people, including nine firefighters, and injured more than 100 others, officials and local media reported Sunday, as efforts to extinguish the blaze continued into a second night.

Following explosions of chemicals in a container, an inferno erupted at the BM-Inland Container Depot. It is a joint venture between Holland and Bangladesh. Although the exact cause of this fire was unclear, it could be identified. The depot is located near country’s main Chittagong Seaport, 216 kilometers (134 miles) southeast of the capital, Dhaka.

According to Brig., at least nine firefighters died in the firefighter accident. Brig. Main Uddin is the director general of Bangladesh’s civil defense and fire services. He added that 10 more were under treatment for burns.

Uddin stated that multiple explosions took place after the initial blast to keep the fire burning. Explosives experts from Bangladesh’s military have been called in to assist the firefighters. Officials and local media reported that the explosions caused windows to burst and could be felt up to 4 km (2 1/2 miles) away.

The death toll reached 49 by Sunday evening, according to Ekattor TV station, and the area’s civil surgeon said the number could still rise as the fire raged for a second night.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who was in shock by the accident, ordered appropriate arrangements to provide medical treatment for the injured.

Bangladesh is prone to industrial accidents, with factories setting themselves ablaze and workers being trapped. Monitors blame corruption and lax enforcement.

In recent years, global brands have been criticized for failing to make improvements in factory conditions. In the country’s massive garment industry, which employs about 4 million people, safety conditions have improved significantly after massive reforms, but experts say accidents could still occur if other sectors do not make similar changes.

Around 117 workers were killed in Dhaka in 2012 after being trapped by locked doors in their garment factory.

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.

2019 saw the destruction of a 400 year-old district in Dhaka that was crowded with shops, apartments and warehouses. At least 67 were killed. In 2010, at least 123 died in another fire that erupted in Old Dhaka, in an illegally stored chemical house.

A fire broke out at Dhaka’s food and beverage plant in 2021. 52 people were killed. Many of them had been trapped by an illegally locked door.

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