Bangladesh: Deadly blaze kills nine in Chittagong slum

Dozens injured and at least 200 homes destroyed in hours-long inferno, officials say.

    At least four of those killed in the blaze were members of the same family, officials said [Reuters]
    At least four of those killed in the blaze were members of the same family, officials said [Reuters]

    A devastating blaze has killed at least nine people and injured dozens of others in Bangladesh's southeastern city of Chittagong, according to local officials.

    The fire broke out early on Sunday morning and raced through a crowded slum in the port city, which lies some 216 kilometres southeast of the capital, Dhaka, fire official Jasim Uddin told the Associated Press news agency.

    "While trying to control the fire, we formed a search team and the team found four dead bodies belonging to the same family," Uddin said.

    At least 200 homes, mostly made up of bamboo, tin and tarpaulin, were gutted before firefighters brought the blaze under control about five hours after it started.

    Firefighters took about five hours to get the blaze under control, according to local officials [Reuters]

    Uddin told AP that the cause of the fire was not yet known, and that an investigation into the incident had been ordered.

    Fires regularly break out in Bangladesh's slums, where millions of people live in squalid living conditions, and accidents in the South Asian nation kill hundreds of people every year.

    Rights groups have alleged some former shanty town blazes were deliberate acts of sabotage by developers seeking to free up property to construct multi-storey buildings.

    Rights activist Nur Khan Liton told the AFP news agency on Sunday that fires had been used in the past "as a weapon to evict poor slum dwellers and squatters from government or private property".

    There was no immediate evidence that Sunday's fire was intentional.

    SOURCE: News agencies