Bangladesh fire: Blaze kills dozens in Dhaka historic district

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The blaze broke out in residential building also used as a chemical warehouse

A fast-moving fire has swept through a historic district of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, killing at least 60.

The blaze broke out Wednesday evening in a multi-storey residential building with the ground floor reportedly used to store flammable chemicals.

According to local media, the fire quickly spread to nearby buildings.

Authorities have told the BBC on Thursday morning that the death toll stood at 60 but that the fire had been brought under control.

The fire might have originated from a gas cylinder before quickly spreading through the building where chemicals were stored, the country’s fire service chief Ali Ahmed told AFP.

The centuries-old Chawkbazar area of Dhaka characteristically has very narrow streets and residential buildings only inches apart.

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Fire fighters managed to get the blaze under control

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Volunteers recovering a body from a burnt warehouse

The blaze raced through four adjoining buildings, Mr Ahmed added.

“There was a traffic jam when the fire broke out. It spread so quickly that people could not escape.”

According to the Dhaka Tribune the building housed a plastics warehouse full of flammable material.

Victims also included people outside the buildings, some guests at a restaurant and members of a bridal party, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Ibrahim Khan told AFP.

Many of the victims were trapped in the buildings, according to reports, unable to escape the flames.

One man, whose shop was destroyed in the fire, explained that he had narrowly escaped the blaze when he left to go to a pharmacy.

“When I was at the pharmacy I heard a big bang,” Haji Abdul Kader told AFP.

“I turned back and saw the whole street in flames. Flames were everywhere… I got burned and rushed to hospital.”

Bangladesh has a persistent problem with building safety regulations not being followed.

In 2013, more than 1,100 people died and thousands more were injured when a building housing garment factories called Rana Plaza in Dhaka collapsed.

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