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3,000 shanties burn at Rayer Bazar to render 10,000 homeless PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 January 2008

3,000 shanties burn at Rayer Bazar to render 10,000 homelessStaff Correspondent

About 3,000 shanties were burnt and 10 buildings were damaged in a fire that broke out in a slum at Rayer Bazar in Dhaka Friday night. About 10,000 people became homeless.

There were no immediate reports of casualties. More than 50 people were injured and several others remained missing. The fire fighters were working to put out the flames at 11:00pm.

Fire service officials and the police feared some children might have been trapped inside.Slum dwellers said the fire had originated from a cloth store to the south of the slum, near the Rayer Bazar tally office, at about 7:30pm. The flames soon spread over the entire slum as winds blew strong.

Some local residents, however, said the fire had originated from an oven in a shanty in the south of the slum.

Fifteen fire engines reached the spot and started putting out the flames.

Frightened dwellers trapped inside the enclosure struggled to get out, but the small exit was not enough for the hordes of people to come out at a time.

Many scurried in chaos to the rear of the rectangular slum area as electric supply was snapped soon after the fire had raged in flames.

Most of the dwellers are workers of garment factories, vendors, day labourers and rickshaw pullers. All their property and belongings were burnt.

Officials of the Fire Service and Civil Defence said they were yet to establish the cause of the fire and the extent of the damage.

'Shanties made of bamboo and wood are highly flammable. We are lucky to have the water body near by. The matter could have turned worse, otherwise,' a fire official told this correspondent.

'We could not establish the number of shanties in the slum. We will begin rescue operation after completely putting out the flames. We have primarily estimated that about 3,000 shanties have been burnt,' he said at 10:00pm.

Sixty-year-old Halima Khatun said, 'I was inside my room and heard people crying out "Fire! Fire!" I rushed out and saw the flames advancing towards my shanty. I quickly grabbed my grandchildren and ran for safe places. But we have lost all of our belongings but for the clothes were are in.'

Women went searching for their children. Thirty-two-year-old Phuli Begum, a rice cake vendor, went to her makeshift roadside shop near by, leaving her two children, aged below 7, back home. She rushed back to the slum after the fire had started. She was looking for her children.

Next to her was Anwara Begum, distraught at the news that her two children went missing. She was requesting the fire officials to find out the children.

Sixty-year-old Abdul Alim, the owner of a building in the slum area, said, 'We have lost all of our belongings. Everything burned down.'

Fifty-five-year-old Hawa Begum, owner of three shanties, said her family members had bought 35 kilograms of rice from the open market sales outlet on Thursday. The rice and other valuables were all burnt.

The duty officers of the Mohammadpur and the Hajaribagh police said several of their teams were on location. They were yet to be reported on any casualties or the extent of the damage


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