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Massive fire at depot in Bangladesh: Dozens killed, hundreds injured

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An injured victim is brought to a hospital after a massive fire broke out in an inland container depot at Sitakund, near the port city Chittagong, Bangladesh, June 5, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

At least 34 people have been killed and 300 others injured after a huge fire tore through a container depot in southern Bangladesh, officials said on Sunday.

The fire broke out shortly before midnight at a container storage facility in Sitakunda, about 25 miles (40km) from the key port of Chittagong, fire service official Jalal Ahmed said.

"The death toll from the fire has risen to 34," Elias Chowdhury, chief doctor of the Chittagong region in southern Bangladesh, told AFP as firefighters continued to battle the blaze. "More than 300 people are injured."

Emergency crews were still working to put out the fire Sunday morning and military clinics were helping to treat the injured.

Mominur Rahman, chief administrator of Chittagong district, said said the depot contained millions of dollars of garment products waiting to be exported to Western retailers, for whom Bangladesh is a key supplier.

Ruhul Amin Sikder, spokesman for the Bangladesh Inland Container Association (BICA), said some of the containers at the 30-acre private depot contained chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide.

The director of the BM container depot, Mujibur Rahman, said the fire’s cause was still unknown. He added the facility employs about 600 people.

In 2020, three workers were killed after an oil tank exploded in another container depot in the neighboring Patenga area.

Fires are common in Bangladesh due to lax enforcement of safety rules. In July 2021, 54 people died when a blaze ripped through a food-processing factory outside the capital Dhaka.

In 2020, 70 people were killed when another fire engulfed several Dhaka apartment blocks.

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