A fire in a crowded slum in Bangladesh‘s capital Dhaka has destroyed thousands of homes and left thousands of people homeless, officials have said.
The fire started on Friday in Dhaka’s Mirpur neighbourhood and destroyed about 2,000 mostly tin shacks, fire services official Ershad Hossain told AFP news agency.
Several people were injured but nobody was killed in the fire, authorities said, who confirmed thousands of people were left homeless.
Most of the homes were empty as people had left to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday with their families.
“Otherwise, the damage would have been bigger,” local police chief Golam Rabbani told AFP.
It took firefighters hours to get the blaze under control and about 10,000 people were forced to look for shelter in crowded camps at nearby schools, according to Hossain.
“We are providing them with food, water, mobile toilets, and electricity supply,” municipal official Shafiul Azam told AFP, adding that authorities were trying to find permanent accommodation.
Reporting from Dhaka, Al Jazeera’s Tanvir Chowdhury said the fire was “absolutely devastating”.
“Most of the people are trying to salvage whatever they can,” he said. “Many of them had been living here for 20 years. A lot of these people work in the garment factories, some are rickshaw pullers, some people are day labourers whose life savings were in the shanty homes where they lived.”
An investigation has been launched into the cause of the blaze, but local media are reporting the fire was exacerbated by illegal gas lines.
Fire disasters have regularly hit Bangladesh’s major cities, killing hundreds of people in recent years.
Critics have blamed lax regulations and poor enforcement for the deadly blazes.
At least 100 people have been killed so far this year in building fires across the densely populated metropolitan city.
In February, more than 70 people were killed when a massive fire raced through several apartment buildings also used as chemical warehouses.
A June 2010 fire in the nearby neighbourhood of Nimtoli, one of the most densely populated districts of the capital, killed 123 people.
In November 2012, a fire swept through a nine-storey garment factory near Dhaka killing 111 workers. An investigation found it was caused by sabotage and that managers at the plant had prevented the victims from escaping.