At least 34 people were killed and 300 injured when containers of chemicals exploded at a warehouse in Bangladesh.
Hundreds of people had rushed to the Sitakundato site to help fight the fire around midnight on Saturday when a massive explosion ripped through the depot.
The death toll from the blast reached 34 on Sunday – and is expected to rise, the region’s chief medical officer said.
“The death toll from the fire has risen to 34,” said Elias Chowdhury, chief medical officer of the Chittagong region in southern Bangladesh.
“More than 300 people are injured.”
At least five firefighters are among the dead, according to Main Uddin, director-general of Bangladesh Fire and Civil Protection.
The injured include at least 40 firefighters and 10 police officers.
Many of the wounded are reportedly in critical condition – with burns covering 60 to 90 percent of their bodies.
There were several blasts after the initial blast as the fire quickly spread across the depot, Uddin said.
Explosives experts from the Bangladesh military have now been brought in to assist the firefighters.
Mominur Rahman, chief administrator of Chittagong district, said the government deployed about 200 army troops to stop the chemicals from spilling into the sea.
The massive blasts shattered the windows of nearby buildings – and were felt up to two miles away, according to local media reports.
Mohammad Ali, 60, who has a grocery store nearby, said: “A cylinder was flying about half a kilometer from the fire site to our small pond when the explosion took place.
“The explosion sent fireballs into the sky. Fireballs fell like rain. We were so scared that we immediately left home to seek refuge.
“We thought the fire would spread to our place because it’s very densely populated.”
Eyewitnesses said the blast devoured people who had been fighting the blaze.
Truck driver Tofael Ahmed said: “I was standing in the depot.
“The explosion only threw me about 10 meters from where I was. My hands and legs are burned.”
The cause of the fire was not immediately clear.
The hospitals in the area are now overwhelmed and many are asking for blood donations.
Many of the containers in the depot are said to have contained chemicals.
The depot handles goods for export and import and is approximately 12 miles from the country’s main Chittagong seaport.
Bangladesh has a history of industrial disasters, including factories catching fire and workers trapped inside.
Monitoring groups have blamed corruption and lax enforcement for fatal incidents over the years.
In 2012, 117 workers died when they were trapped behind locked exits at a garment factory in Dhaka.
The country’s worst industrial disaster happened in 2013 when the Rana Plaza garment factory outside Dhaka collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people.
In 2019, a fire swept through a 400-year-old area of homes, shops and warehouses in the oldest part of Dhaka, killing at least 67 people.
Another fire in Old Dhaka in a house illegally storing chemicals killed at least 123 people in 2010.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5492735/bangladesh-fire-dead-containers-chemicals-explode/ Bangladesh fire – Horror fire kills at least 34 people after containers filled with chemicals explode at port