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

    Meet the deported nurse aiding asylum seekers at US-Mexico border

    Meet the deported nurse helping refugees at the border

    Francisco 'Panchito' Olachea drives a beat-up ambulance around Nogales, taking care of those trying to get to the US.

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    How a homegrown burger joint pioneered a food revolution and decades later gave a young, politicised class its identity.

    'We will cut your throats': The anatomy of Greece's lynch mobs

    The brutality of Greece's racist lynch mobs

    With anti-migrant violence hitting a fever pitch, victims ask why Greek authorities have carried out so few arrests.