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Death Counts Swell to 117 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 04 June 2010

The death counts from Thusday night's roaring blaze at Old Dhaka's Nimtali has swelled to 117.

Dhaka's district commissioner Muhibul Haque said magistrates overseeing search operations gave the counts.

Firefighters are still looking for bodies underneath the debris.

He said 18 of them had yet to be identified. Most of the dead were women and children.

At 5am on Friday, the fire fighters decided to end their operation after an eight-hour battle with the blaze with the death toll then at 88, of which 87 people had died in the fire itself and another person at hospital.

However, as daylight came, the fire fighters were again called back to work as more bodies were discovered.

Brig Gen Abu Nayeem Mohammed Shahidullah, the fire service director general, told reporters that six bodies were recovered from 7am to 11:45am from some sewerage tunnels adjacent to the fire-hit buildings.

Meanwhile, another three victims who sustained critical burn injuries died at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Shamanta Lal Sen, director of the DMCH burns unit, told

As of 2.00pm on Friday, this had brought the death toll to 97.

It is feared that the death toll will rise further as many other have sustained grave burn injuries, with over 100 being treated at different hospitals.

Thirteen of the fire victims were transferred from DMCH to Combined Military Hospital, said Dr Sanjida of burns and plastic unit of the hospital.

The fire broke out on Thursday night at about 9pm after an electrical transformer at Nawab Katra in Nimtali in Dhaka City Corporation's ward 69 burst into flames that raced through several apartment complexes, feeding on flammable chemicals and plastic goods in a string of small shops lining the street beneath, fire officials said.

The blaze started around 9pm on Thursday when an electrical transformer burst into flames from an electric short-circuit soon after a rainstorm swept the city, The explosion set light a shop storing flammable chemicals.

The flames spread fast to six apartment buildings and about 15 stores in Najirabazar, feeding on flammable chemicals and plastic goods in a string of small shops lining the street beneath, fire officials said.

The carnage began when the blast set alight a three-storey apartment building in the Najirabazar, firefighters said.

Locals said the firefighters were late to arrive at the scene and that there was acute water crisis, factors that prevented the blaze from being doused.

This is the second deadly disaster to strike the capital in 72 hours after a five-storey building toppled completely off its base onto several shanties in Tejgaon's Begunbari on Tuesday night, claiming 25 lives.

The home ministry has formed a three-member committee, headed by the additional secretary, which includes representatives from the police and fire department. The committee has been asked to submit its report by seven days.

Shahidullah said since the power supply was cut off it was difficult to conduct rescue operations. He also said narrow lanes and stairways of the very old buildings in the crowded residential area made it difficult for the fire equipment to enter.

He said most of the people died due to suffocation and extreme heat as the fire was fuelled by checmicals.


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