Disasters & Accidents

Protests, prayers for victims of Bangladesh container depot fire

Dhaka, June 6 (EFE).– Bangladeshis on Monday held protests and prayers for the victims of a fire that tore through a container depot as authorities revised the death toll to 41 from the previously reported 49.

Over 200 people suffered injuries in the fire and explosions at a privately-run inland container depot near the country’s largest seaport Chittagong over the weekend.

Elias Chowdhury, the health chief of Chittagong, said they revised the death figure to 41 on Monday.

There was some counting error, Chowdhury said. “We have finally counted 41 bodies.”

The Socialist Labour Front held a protest rally near the National Press Club in Dhaka, demanding legal action against those responsible for the deadly incident and compensation for the families of the victims.

“The rehabilitation of injured workers and workplace safety must be ensured. Not only the owners, but we also demand punishment of government officials responsible for inspection of industrial units,” said Ahsan Habib Bulbul, general secretary of the SLF.

Sammilita Sangskritik Jote, a cultural organization, held a candlelight vigil in prayers for the victims of the fire incident.

The fire broke out at Netherlands-Bangladesh joint venture BM Container Depot in Sitakunda, 20 km north of Chittagong port, at 9.20 pm on Saturday.

A series of explosions from the fire incident shook the entire area leaving hundreds screaming for help, witnesses said.

Firefighters bore the brunt as their first group of responders were either dead, injured, or missing.

Shajahan Sikder, a spokesman for Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense, said at least nine firefighters were confirmed dead, and three remained missing until Monday.

He said 15 firefighters were undergoing treatment in different hospitals, two in critical conditions.

Authorities said hydrogen peroxide stored in some containers caused the explosions.

Uttam Chakma, an assistant commissioner of customs, confirmed at least 33 containers had hydrogen peroxide stored in the depots.

Firefighters said they were unaware of the hazardous chemicals in the depot.

Authorities said the fire came under control Monday but did not extinguish completely.

Villagers said they were still in panic after the incident.

“We are not allowed to go near (the spot), but we can see smoke coming out of containers,” said villager Mohammad Yakub.

Medical authorities said they could identify only 22 victims, and their bodies were handed to relatives.

“We are now taking the DNA samples of other victims for their identification,” Chattogram Medical College Hospital director Shamim Ahsan told EFE.

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