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2020-02-15 06:47:31 Read Count：261
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Death toll could rise, officials say, as at least 50 hospitalized, some are critical
The death toll of a devastating fire burst in an old part of Bangladesh"s capital Dhaka on Wednesday night has risen to 81, local officials said, and the number may continue to grow.
Sayeed Khokon, mayor of South Dhaka, has officially called off the rescue operation in the noon of Thursday after nearly 14 hours of efforts. But a few teams of firefighters were still at the spot on standby and additional police deployed.
Many bags have been brought with severed and burned body parts, which indicates that the death toll is much higher. About 50 people were injured, some critically burned.
Hundreds of people rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital morgue, where the bodies of the fire victims were taken, to identify their near and dear ones on Thursday morning.
So far, about 30 bodies have been identified and the rest charred beyond recognition, according to The Daily Stars, the leading English newspaper in Bangladesh.
The fire started around 10:40 pm on Wednesday at a warehouse in Chawkbazar area of Old Dhaka on the ground floor of the five-story building. The flames then quickly spread to three other buildings nearby, including a community center.
Witnesses told local TV stations that many gas cylinders stored in the buildings continued to explode one after another. They said the fire also set off explosions in fuel tanks of some vehicles that got stuck in traffic in front of the destroyed buildings.
Some reports suggested many of the fatalities were pedestrians, shoppers or diners who died quickly as several gas cylinders exploded, and the fire engulfed nearby buildings very quickly.
"I was talking to a customer, suddenly he shouted at me, "Fire! Fire!"" said Javed Hossain, a survivor who came to assess the damage to his grocery store Thursday afternoon. "I said "Oh, Allah", in a fraction of a second the fire caught my shop."
The fire was brought under control by 37 unites firefighters around 3 am, while the origin of the fire has not been known yet.
Many of the victims were trapped inside the buildings, said Mahfuz Riben, a control room official of the Fire Service and Civil Defense in Dhaka.
"Our teams are working there but many of the recovered bodies are beyond recognition. Our people are using body bags to send them to the hospital morgue, this is a very difficult situation," he said.
High potential risk
The district dating to the Mughal era 400 years ago is crammed with buildings separated by narrow alleys, with residences commonly above shops, restaurants or warehouses on the ground floors, despite the high potential risks.
Local residents said there are still certain numbers of chemical warehouses, factories and sales outlets running in the over-populated residential area, although South Dhaka has stopped providing new licenses as well as renewal of old ones since last year.
The authorities had promised to take actions to remove the chemical warehouse from residential buildings after a 2010 tragedy, but the local media said little had been actually done.
A fire in Old Dhaka"s Nimtoli area killed at least 123 people in 2010, causing a public outcry to relocate chemical warehouses and stores from the area.
In 2012, a fire raced through a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, killing at least 112 people trapped behind its locked gates. Another building housing garment factories collapsed less than six months later, killing more than 1,100 people.
AP contributed to this story.custom goyard braceletpersonality braceletsbracelet montre silicone 14mmcustom wristbandsilicone rubber bracelets