Latest Bangladeshi safety news: Depot fire

CHITTAGONG (Bangladesh) -- Authorities in Bangladesh are still trying to determine the cause of a fire that claimed the lives of at least 49 people.

Latest Bangladeshi safety news: Depot fire

CHITTAGONG (Bangladesh) -- Authorities in Bangladesh are still trying to determine the cause of a fire that claimed the lives of at least 49 people. Nine firefighters were also killed in the incident. More than 100 others were injured. Local media and officials reported that authorities in Bangladesh were still working Monday to find the cause. Experts have expressed concern about the safety standards in Bangladesh's industrial sector.

After Saturday's explosions in a chemical-filled container, the inferno broke out at midnight.

Authorities claim that there were over 4,000 containers at the depot, covering more than 24 acres of land at the time of the fire and subsequent explosions. Around 1,000 containers contained goods and chemicals.

Nearly 40 hours after the explosion, smoke still emitted from containers on the scene. The firefighters who were called from Dhaka and nearby areas to assist with the rescue operation were extra careful.

A soldier urged people to get up and move by speaking into a megaphone

The man shouted, "We have more containers with chemicals. Please go out."

The scene turned into a nightmare for firefighters, with 21 of them being killed or seriously injured.

Purna Chandra Mutsuddy (Deputy Assistant Director of the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense) stated, "It was so difficult to transport them (firefighters), on my shoulders at BM Depot. They were people that I had seen as my own sons, and worked with them."

He said, "I feel that there is nothing more painful in the world than this."

Officials claimed that the number of deaths rose because firefighters and workers were not aware of the chemical storage at the depot and they came within close proximity to the explosive containers after starting the fire. When the first explosion occurred, a few hundred firefighters and others were trying to put out the flames.

It is situated near the country's main Chittagong Seaport at 210 km (130 miles) southeast from Dhaka. This depot is one of 19 in the region.

Concerns have been raised about safety standards at these facilities in Bangladesh, which is a rapidly growing economy in South Asia.

Khairul Alam, vice president of Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association stated Sunday that hazardous chemicals were kept in containers alongside garment products for export.

He stated that it was crucial to keep away from any containers containing hazardous chemicals.

According to firefighters, more than a dozen containers contained hydrogen peroxide. This helped spread the fire after it occurred. However, it wasn't clear what caused the explosion.

The chief of the nation's fire service regretted not being able to contact the depot's management for details about the chemicals while they were on the scene.

The institution's ability to ensure safety at such facilities was criticized by the Bangladeshi media.

The Daily Star newspaper published an editorial Monday saying that the fire "is the latest in a growing list of tragedies which put Bangladesh's appalling Industrial Safety Record once again under the spotlight."

According to the Daily Star, "The lack of infrastructure and institutional safety for industrial safety... makes such fires almost inevitable."

In a 2020 report, the International Labor Organization stated that Bangladesh's industrial safety is still in its infancy.

It stated that a comprehensive framework must be created to address all safety-related issues in different sectors, economic activities, and commercial establishments. This should include a reference to COVID-19 emergencies.

According to the ILO, Bangladesh requires a "credible, accountable and transparent industrial safety governance structure."

Authorities began collecting DNA samples from relatives of those who lost their loved ones in the fire on Monday morning. Many of the victims' bodies were unrecognizable due to the severe burns.

To assist firefighters, explosives experts from Bangladesh's military were called. Officials and local media reported that the explosions caused windows to burst and could be felt up to 4 km (2 1/2 miles) away.

According to Ekattor TV station, the death toll was 49 as of Monday. However, the civil surgeon in the region said that the death toll could rise as the fire continued for another night.

Over a dozen victims were airlifted to Dhaka and taken to a hospital there. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed shock and made arrangements for the medical treatment of the wounded.

Bangladesh has a long history of industrial disasters. There have been instances when factories caught fire and workers were trapped. Monitoring groups blame corruption and lax enforcement.

Safety conditions in the country's huge garment industry, which employs approximately 4 million people, have improved dramatically after major reforms. However, experts warn that accidents can still happen if other sectors don't make similar changes.

About 117 workers were killed in 2012 when they were locked out of a Dhaka garment factory.

The worst industrial accident in Bangladesh occurred the year after Rana Plaza, a garment factory located outside Dhaka, collapsed. This resulted in more than 1,100 deaths.

A fire erupted in a 400-year old area of Old Dhaka, killing at least 67 people. In 2010, at least 123 people were killed in another fire in Old Dhaka, which was started by a house that illegally stored chemicals.

A fire broke out at Dhaka's food and beverage plant in 2021. 52 people were killed. Many of them were trapped by illegally locked doors.

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Alam reported from Dhaka in Bangladesh, the capital of Bangladesh.

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