Fire devastates historic district in Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka

World Today

A large fire has swept through a historic district of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.

Scores of people are confirmed dead, some reports as high as 110. With dozens injured and many unaccounted for, the death toll expected to rise.

CGTN’s Gerald Tan has the latest.

In daylight, the extent of the devastation becomes clear. The wreckage of buildings centuries-old are scarred by the inferno.

Rescuers comb through debris in search of life, as relatives of victims grow increasingly desperate for news.

Awal Hossain is waiting to find out his brother’s fate. “I can’t find my younger brother anywhere. I’ve checked out both morgues, but I can’t find him,” he said.

The fire broke out just before midnight in Dhaka’s historic district of Chawkbazar dating back to the Mughal Empire.

The streets are narrow, and buildings are crammed in tight. The blaze tore through homes quickly and with ferocity.

Hazi Mohammad Salauddin witnessed the fire’s rapid spread. “The point by the mosque was gridlocked. I saw with my own eyes that a sudden massive bang with fire and shock waves totally destroyed the roadside wall,” he said.

It took firefighters more than 10 hours to put out the flames.

Investigators are trying to determine how it started – One witness report suggests an explosion at a chemical warehouse. Another said a cylinder in a passing car exploded.

Bangladesh is no stranger to large building fires. Poor living conditions combined with the lack of enforcement have led to several tragedies in recent years.

Hundreds have perished as a result.