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Bangladesh building fire kills 45, injures dozens

A massive fire in Bangladesh that raced through a six-storey building home to restaurants where many families with children were dining has killed at least 45 people and injured dozens, the health minister said.

Fire authorities said a gas leak or a stove could have caused the blaze, which spread quickly after breaking out in a biryani restaurant and was only reined in following two hours of effort by 13 units of firefighters.

Hospitals are treating 22 people with burn wounds, Health Minister Samanta Lal Sen told reporters.

“All 22 people are in critical condition,” Ms Sen said after a visit to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed shock and sorrow over the incident, ordering officials to provide swift treatment for the injured.

Firefighters work to extinguish the blaze

One survivor, Mohammad Altaf, recounted his narrow escape from the blaze that killed two colleagues.

“I went to the kitchen, broke a window and jumped to save myself,” he told reporters, adding that a cashier and server who urged people to leave during the first moments had died later.

Firefighters used cranes to rescue people from the charred building, said fire officials, who were still working to clear debris and stamp out any remaining embers.

Relatives gathered at the hospital early this morning to receive the bodies of the dead, with some mourning outside the emergency department.

Doctors said most of the dead were killed by suffocation with others dying as they jumped off the building, which also houses some clothing and mobile telephone shops.

Firefighters rescue people from the rooftop of the six-storey building

The fire could have originated from a gas leak or stove, said Brigadier General Main Uddin, a top fire service official.

“It was a dangerous building with gas cylinders on every floor, even on the staircases,” he told reporters.

The government has set up a five-member panel to investigate the incident.

Fires are common in densely populated Dhaka, where many new buildings have sprung up, many without adequate safety measures.

Fires and explosions have resulted from faulty gas cylinders, air conditioners and poor electrical wiring.

In July 2021, many children were among 54 people killed at a food processing factory outside Dhaka, while at least 70 were killed in a February 2019 fire that engulfed a centuries-old precinct.

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