Bangladesh fire: 40 dead in massive fire at container depot in Chittagong

·2-min read
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire that broke out at a container storage facility in Sitakunda, about 40 km from the key port of Chittagong (AFP/Getty)
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire that broke out at a container storage facility in Sitakunda, about 40 km from the key port of Chittagong (AFP/Getty)

A massive fire at a container depot in southeastern Bangladesh has killed at least 40 people and injured over 450, according to officials.

“So far 40 dead bodies reached the morgue here,” a police officer at the state-run Chattagram Medical College Hospital (CMCH) was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

The victims include at least five firefighters.

Speaking to the Bangla Tribune, CMCH police outpost assistant sub-inspector Alauddin Talukdar earlier reported that 28 people had died as of 11.15am on Sunday.

At least 350 of the injured people are receiving treatment at CMCH, according to the chief of Red Crescent Youth Chittagong’s Health and Service Department, Istakul Islam.

“The death toll could be more at other hospitals,” he added.

The fire at the BM Inland container depot broke out at around midnight on Saturday following explosions in a container full of chemicals. The depot is located in Sitakunda Upazila in Chittagong, 216kms (134 miles) southeast of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka.

Mominur Rahman, chief administrator for the Chittagong district, is reported to have said there were “still several pockets of fire in the depot” on Sunday morning.

In a statement to the Associated Press early on Sunday morning, Chittagong’s civil surgeon Mohammed Elias Hossain confirmed the deaths of six people.

The death toll later rose to at least 16 at the CMCH, according to local TV news reports.

At the time, Mr Hossain indicated that the number could still rise further, and that many fire service officials and police were among the injured. He appealed to all doctors in the district to help tackle the emergency medical situation.

The fire is suspected to have started in a container of hydrogen peroxide, before quickly spreading to other containers.

Local residents said the force of the explosion shook the entire neighbourhood and shattered window panes in nearby homes.

TV news station Ekattor TV reported that the depot contains about 5,000 containers. The Dutch-Bangladeshi joint venture handles goods for export and import, and is located around 40kms from Bangladesh’s main sea port in Chittagong.

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