Toll rises in Bangladesh fire

Scenes of chaos as people look for loved ones after country's deadliest blaze in 39 years.

    Apartment fires are common in Bangladesh where building regulations are rarely enforced [AFP]

    Abu Nayeem, the fire department chief, said the fire had been caused by an electrical fault and spread rapidly before firefighters could access the area.

    In video

    Bangladesh mourns fire victims

    Many of the victims were attending a wedding on the roof of one of the buildings.

    "At least seven buildings have been engulfed by the fire. There were shops selling chemicals on the ground floor, which were caught by the fire as it spread very quickly," he told the AFP news agency on Thursday.

    "The temperature and fumes became unbearable because of the chemicals."

    Abu Nayeem said a bakery with several large gas burners had also caught fire.

    "We struggled to get inside due to the narrow stairways of the very old buildings, it is almost impossible for us to get fire-fighting equipment into the area," he said.

    Response criticised

    Fire officials have been criticised for their slow response to the blaze.

    "The fire raged for more than an hour before firefighters arrived," our correspondent said.

    "People are very angry."

    Shahidul Bari, a specialist at the burns unit, said that at least 100 people had been admitted with severe burns and smoke inhalation.

    "Our unit is full and more patients are pouring in. It's a disaster of huge proportions," he said.

    "Patients are being treated in the corridors and still more are coming in. We are sending the most critically ill to the hospital's emergency units."

    Fires due to short-circuits, substandard wiring and electrical faults are common in Bangladesh, where building regulations are rarely enforced.

    This blaze has been the deadliest fire in Bangladesh in the last 39 years.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.