At least 19 people, including a Sri Lankan citizen, were killed and 70 others injured in a fire that broke out at FR Tower in Dhaka’s Banani area this afternoon.
The death toll rose to 19 till filling the report around 8:00pm, our staff correspondent reports following update of the media cell set up by the Fire Service and Civil Defence on the spot.
The death toll may rise further, according to the fire service officials, who were conducting rescue operation.
The fire broke out on the eighth floor of the 22-storey building on Banani Road 17 around 1:00pm and engulfed other floors immediately. The cause of the fire could not be known immediately.
The fire was brought under control around 4:45pm, said Farid Uddin, a duty officer of the Fire Service and Civil Defence headquarters.
A total of 21 firefighting units were trying to douse the blaze and rescue the people trapped inside the building. Later, Army, Navy and Air forces; police and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) joined the operation.
Helicopters were seen spraying water on the building and firefighters were bringing people out the window panes in groups, using ladders, our correspondent reports from the spot.
Six of the deceased were identified as Parvex Sazzad, 47, Amen Yasmin, 30, Masud 36, Niras Chandra, 30, Abdullah Al Faroque, 32, Maksudur, 36, and Manir 50, reports our staff reporter quoting police.
Of them, Niras Chandra was a Sri Lankan national. He reportedly fell to his death while escaping the fire. Niras was brought dead to Kurmitola General Hospital, said the hospital’s Director Brig Gen Qazi Rashid-Un-Nabi.
He sustained serious injuries as he jumped off the building to escape the fire and died before he was brought to the hospital, he also said.
Besides, Faruk, who suffered 90 per cent burns in the fire, died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) around 4:20pm, Dr Samanta Lal Sen, chief coordinator of National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery of the DMCH, told The Daily Star.
Abu Bakar Siddiq, officer-in-charge of Gulshan Police Station, told The Daily Star that bodies of three of the victims were brought to the United Hospital this afternoon.
Around 41 injured were admitted to Kurmitola General Hospital, said the hospital’s Director Brig Gen Qazi Rashid-Un-Nabi.
“Their conditions are not serious. Most of them are suffering from breathing complications as they inhaled the smoke,” Brig Gen Qazi Rashid-Un-Nabi.
When the fire sparked inside the building, at least six people were seen falling off while trying to escape the blaze. Many others were trying to climb down on the ledges.
Director General of Fire Service and Civil Defence Brigadier General Sazzad Hossain Khan said that the fire has been doused.
“We are still working,” he said adding that they would continue search operation inside the building till 10:00am tomorrow.
“And later, we will hand over the building to the police for further step,” he told journalist on the spot around 9:30pm.
The eighth, ninth and tenth floors of the high-rise building were badly affected by the fire as there were many objects those intensified the fire, causing huge smoke, he said.
A five-member probe committee has been formed to investigate the fire incident, Dilip Kumar Ghosh, deputy director of the Fire Service and Civil Defence, told journalist at the media centre.
Responding to a query, the fire service DG further said, “We cannot say anything about the cause and source of the fire until the investigation is completed.”
RELATIVES LOOK FOR ‘MISSING’ ONES
Relatives were crowding Banani in search of their near and dear ones.
They were seen crying in despair and gathering in groups as they could not reach the phones of their family members.
One such aggrieved mother told The Daily Star that her daughter Aparajita Barua works in an office on the 12th floor of the building.
“During our last contact, she told us there were huge fumes in the building and that she was finding it difficult to breathe. Now, we can’t reach her on the phone,” she said.
RECURRENCE OF DEADLY BLAZES IN DHAKA
The Banani fire incident, that has claimed 19 lives, comes barely a month after a devastating fire ripped through Old Dhaka’s Chawkbazar area on February 20, leaving 71 people dead.
The Chawkbazar fire, which sparked from a chemical warehouse, is the second deadliest chemical-fuelled fire in the country after the 2010 Nimtoli incident.
Fire incidents at the city’s burgeoning skyscrapers are nothing new. Cramped buildings, narrow alleyways, lack of fire security kits, inadequate fire exits in the skyscrapers are often considered a recipe of disasters.