At least 43 dead in Dhaka building blaze

A devastating fire engulfed a multi-storey building in the bustling city of Dhaka, Bangladesh, claiming the lives of at least 46 individuals and leaving scores injured. The tragic incident unfolded on Thursday evening around 22:00 local time (16:00 GMT), originating from a restaurant within the seven-floor property.

Reports from local media indicate that 75 individuals were successfully rescued from the inferno, while numerous others were rushed to nearby hospitals for treatment. After a strenuous two-hour battle, firefighters managed to bring the blaze under control.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, with initial assessments pointing towards safety deficiencies. Fire service officials revealed alarming lapses in safety measures within the building, notably the absence of emergency exits and the hazardous storage of cooking gas cylinders in stairwells and restaurant kitchens.

Health Minister Samanta Lal Sen reported that Dhaka Medical College Hospital had received at least 33 casualties, including women and children, declared deceased upon arrival. Additionally, ten others succumbed to their injuries at the city’s main burns hospital, while twenty-two individuals remain in critical condition.

The fire erupted in the Kacchi Bhai restaurant situated within the seven-floor complex, as detailed by the Daily Bangladesh newspaper. This complex houses various restaurants, clothing stores, and mobile phone shops, adding to the complexity of the rescue operation.

Brigadier General Main Uddin, head of the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, suggested that the fire may have been triggered by a gas leak or stove malfunction. He underscored the perilous nature of the building, citing the presence of gas cylinders on every floor, including staircases.

Eyewitness accounts paint a harrowing picture of the chaos and desperation that ensued. Sohel, a restaurant manager, described the frantic attempts to evacuate as smoke rapidly engulfed the staircase. Many individuals resorted to unconventional means of escape, using water pipes or resorting to daring jumps from upper floors.

Mohammad Altaf, another survivor, recounted his narrow escape through a broken window, lamenting the loss of colleagues who valiantly assisted in rescue efforts. Their tragic fate underscores the heroism and sacrifice exhibited amidst the chaos.

Fires in commercial and residential buildings are regrettably common in Bangladesh, often attributed to poor safety awareness and lax enforcement of regulations. The latest tragedy serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for stringent safety measures and enhanced vigilance to prevent such devastating incidents in the future.

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