Bangladesh fire: Blaze kills dozens in Dhaka historic district

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A fast-moving fire has swept through a historic district of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, killing at least 69.

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

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

Authorities told the BBC on Thursday morning that the fire had been brought under control.

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

Local news site BDNews24 added that the ground floor of the building housed shops, with the first floor used to store plastics, cosmetics and perfumes.

Several families lived on the other floors of the building.

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

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.”

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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