Over 70 killed as major fire rips through Bangladesh capital

A view of a scene of a fire that broke out at a chemical warehouse in Dhaka Bangladesh

"There was a traffic jam when the fire broke out".

However, most of the bodies of the dead were charred beyond recognition. The neighborhood is a mix of residential and commercial buildings that commonly have shops, restaurants or warehouses on the ground floors.

Some reports suggested numerous fatalities were pedestrians, shoppers or diners who died quickly as several gas cylinders exploded, and the fire engulfed nearby buildings very quickly.

Firemen said they struggled to get enough water to douse the flames and had to pump supplies from a nearby mosque.

Witnesses said that a bridal party in a community center were also caught in the fire and that many were injured.

Shopowner Haji Abdul Kader told Agence France-Presse he "heard a big bang", and then "saw the whole street in flames".

Sen said at least nine of the critically injured people were being treated in his unit. At least 27 people died in the fire and more than 100 were injured.

The fire in Dhaka's Chawkbazar area Wednesday night was mostly under control after more than 10 hours of frantic firefighting efforts. "Flames were everywhere", he told AFP.

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A similar blaze in 2010 in an old Dhaka building, which was also used as a chemical warehouse, killed more than 120 people in one of the worst fire disasters in the city of 20 million people.

"I said, 'Oh, Allah.' In a fraction of a second the fire caught my shop".

According to the divisional commissioner, 41 people are undergoing treatment at different hospitals in the city and the bodies have been kept at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital morgue. AKM Shakil Newaz, said many were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

The death toll now sits at 70 but fire officials expect it to rise as the fire tore through the building and leapt to four others, some of which also stored chemicals, at the tight intersection.

Bangladeshi media reports the building housed a plastics warehouse and was full of flammable material.

After that incident, a committee suggested the removal of all chemical warehouses from residential areas, but critics say no significant steps have been taken in the years since.

Lax regulations and poor enforcement of rules in impoverished Bangladesh have often been blamed for several large fires that have led to hundreds of deaths in recent years.

The 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse killed more than 1100 garment workers.

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