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Firefighters battle blaze in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Image: AFP/M. Uz Zaman

Bangladesh high-rise blaze traps, kills workers

March 28, 2019

Police have said that at least 19 people have been killed in an office building fire in the business district of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka. The blaze is the latest in a series of workplace fires.


A massive fire inside the 22-story FR Tower in the Banani area of the Bangladeshi capital on Thursday has left a number of people dead, others feared to be trapped inside, and many injured.

Helicopters dropped water on the blaze as flames and thick black smoke poured out of the windows. 

A number of people are being treated at the Kurmitola Hospital and 19 people are feared dead. Some tried to escape the burning building by jumping from the higher floors. 

The current situation

Rescue workers are on the scene attempting to rescue people still trapped in the building.

  • The building, located in Dhaka's crowded commercial district, houses offices and other businesses.
  • Witnesses say the fire broke out in a sixth-floor restaurant.
  • Several people leaped to their deaths from the upper floors of the 19-story building as firefighters smashed windows to allow fumes to escape and provide an exit for those trapped inside.
  • The military used helicopters to rescue several people from the roof of the building.
  • Authorities warn that the death toll could rise significantly, and scores of victims are being treated at a nearby hospital.

The latest in a tragic series of deadly fires

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Lieutenant Colonel Julfikar Rhaman of Dhaka Fire Services said: "Teams have entered the building and they are scouring the floors for any remaining victims. The building did not have firefighting equipment."

Bangladesh is notorious for building and fire code violations that regularly result in the deaths of hundreds of citizens. Last month, another fire in the capital killed at least 67 people.

In 2012, a fire at a garment factory shocked the world when 112 workers were killed because they were locked in the building and could not escape the flames. Just months later another garment factory collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people. A 2010 blaze at an illegal chemical storage facility killed at least 123 people.

Building inspections regularly find exits and staircases locked or blocked by stored goods.

js/jm (AFP, AP)

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