Deadly blaze hits Banani building in Dhaka, Bangladesh
A blaze that burned for several hours on Thursday, 28 March 2019, trapped people inside the building, some shouting for help from windows on upper floors and the roof. By Friday morning, no smoke was visible at the FR Tower on a busy avenue in Dhaka's Banani commercial district. Mostak Ahmed, a deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told media on Friday that the death toll stood at 25, with all but one identified. Based on information provided by relatives, no one appeared to still be unaccounted for, he said. "Still we are checking, if someone comes to us we will verify," he said. The fire injured about 70 people, many of them now being treated at Dhaka Medical College Hospital's burn unit.
The blaze at the FR tower, located on a busy avenue in Dhaka's Banani commercial district, was the latest in a city where flouted building regulations and safety norms have made deadly blazes common.
Witnesses described seeing people shouting for help from windows on the upper floors of the building. Some workers slid down a television cable on the side of the building, while others grabbed ropes that were lowered by emergency service helicopters which pulled them out of the blaze. When I heard a fire broke out in the building, I quickly rushed out of the building," Shoikot Rahman said. "Many of my colleagues are still trapped in the office," said Rahman who ran to safety after hearing colleagues raise the alarm.
A military spokesman, Abdullah Ibne Zaid, said the body of a Sri Lankan man was brought to the army's Kurmitola Hospital and another 45 people were being treated there. Another fatality was reported at the Dhaka Medical College hospital. At least six people died after jumping from the 22-floor building.
Rescue workers warned death toll could rise as fire fighters search the charred building. More than 100 people had been rescued from the building through helicopters and ladders, said Julfikar Rahman, director of the Fire Service and Civil Defence. "Our fire fighters are searching for bodies on every floor," Rahman told reporters.
A Bangladeshi housing official said on Friday that criminal charges would be filed against the owner of a building where a fire killed 25 people and which had four upper floors constructed illegally. Minister for Housing and Public Work SM Rezaul Karim also pledged to take action against officials in his ministry if they were guilty of wrongdoing associated with allowing the added floors or other violations.
Raising buildings beyond approved design is rampant in Bangladesh, where the government is seeking fast economic development and the private sector is expanding.
Last month, a fire in the oldest part of Dhaka, a 400-year-old area cramped with apartments, shops and warehouses, left at least 67 people dead. In 2012, a fire at a garment factory killed at least 112 people trapped behind its locked gates. Less than six months later, another building containing garment factories collapsed, killing more than 1 100 people. Another fire in a house illegally storing chemicals in Old Dhaka killed at least 123 people in 2010.