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At least 49 dead in Bangladesh container depot blaze

More than 100 other people were injured in the fire at the BM Inland Container Depot, a Dutch-Bangladesh joint venture in Chittagong.

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A firefighter works to contain a blaze at the BM Inland Container Depot (AP)

A firefighter works to contain a blaze at the BM Inland Container Depot (AP)

A firefighter works to contain a blaze at the BM Inland Container Depot (AP)

A massive fire at a container depot near a port city in south-eastern Bangladesh killed at least 49 people and injured more than 100 others, officials and local media reported on Sunday.

The blaze at the BM Inland Container Depot, a Dutch-Bangladesh joint venture, broke out at around midnight on Saturday following explosions in a container full of chemicals, and firefighters struggled to get the flames under control.

The cause of the fire could not be immediately determined.

The depot is located near country’s main Chittagong Seaport, 134 miles (216km) south-east of the capital, Dhaka.

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Firefighters struggled to bring the blaze at the BM Inland Container Depot under control (AP)

Firefighters struggled to bring the blaze at the BM Inland Container Depot under control (AP)

Firefighters struggled to bring the blaze at the BM Inland Container Depot under control (AP)

At least nine firefighters were among the dead, according to Brigadier General Main Uddin, director general of the Bangladesh fire service and civil defence. Another 15 firefighters were being treated for burns, he added.

Multiple rounds of explosions occurred after the initial blast as the fire continued to spread, Mr Uddin said.

Explosives experts from Bangladesh’s military have been called in to assist the firefighters.

The explosions shattered the windows of nearby buildings and were felt as far as two-and-a-half miles (4km) away, officials and local media reports said.

Firefighters were still working to bring the blaze under control on Sunday.

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An injured man is rushed to hospital after a fire at the BM Inland Container Depot in Chittagong (AP)

An injured man is rushed to hospital after a fire at the BM Inland Container Depot in Chittagong (AP)

An injured man is rushed to hospital after a fire at the BM Inland Container Depot in Chittagong (AP)

The death toll had reached 49 by Sunday evening, according to Ekattor TV station, and the area’s civil surgeon said the number could still rise.

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her shock at the accident and ordered adequate arrangements for the medical treatment of the injured.

Bangladesh has a history of industrial disasters, including factories catching fire with workers trapped inside. Monitoring groups have blamed corruption and lax enforcement.

Global brands, which employ tens of thousands of low-paid workers in Bangladesh, have come under pressure to improve factory conditions in recent years.

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At least 28 people were killed in the blaze (AP)

At least 28 people were killed in the blaze (AP)

At least 28 people were killed in the blaze (AP)

In the country’s massive garment industry, which employs about four 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.

In 2012, about 117 workers died when they were trapped behind locked exits in a garment factory in Dhaka.

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.

In 2019, a blaze tore through a 400-year-old area cramped with apartments, shops and warehouses in the oldest part of Dhaka and killed at least 67 people. Another fire in Old Dhaka in a house illegally storing chemicals killed at least 123 people in 2010.

In 2021, a fire at a food and beverage factory outside Dhaka killed at least 52 people, many of whom were trapped inside by an illegally locked door.


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