Dhaka fire: Blaze kills dozens in building

People look at a list with the names of those injured in the fire

People look at a list with the names of those injured in the fire

The death toll rose to 70, with numerous victims trapped inside the buildings, said Mahfuz Riben, a control room official of the Fire Service and Civil Defense in Dhaka.

It started at a chemical warehouse on the ground floor of the building and then raced through three other buildings, Director General of the Fire Service and Civil Defence Brig Gen Ali Ahmed Khan, told BBC Bengali.

Another fire official told reporters the blaze, which began around 10.40 pm (16:40 GMT) on Wednesday, has been "confined" but not yet extinguished despite the efforts of more than 200 firefighters.

UNSTOPPABLE: Firefighters battled flames for five hours in the capital Dhaka (Pic: REUTERS) TRAPPED: Scores of people were unable to leave their homes as the flames spread (Pic: REUTERS) DIFFICULTIES: Fire crews were unable to get enough water to douse the flames (Pic: REUTERS) "It spread so quickly that people could not escape".

The death toll now sits at 70 but fire officials expect it to rise as the fire tore through the building and leapt to four others, some of which also stored chemicals, at the tight intersection.

"It will take time". They said the fire also set off explosions in the fuel tanks of vehicles stuck in traffic in front of the buildings.

Members of a bridal party are thought to be among the victims.

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Firefighters try to extinguish flames at buildings in Dhaka. One helicopter was also seen hovering over the area.

Over 50 wounded people were being treated at Dhaka's two major state-run facilities - Dhaka Medical College Hospital's burn unit and Sir Salimullah Medical College.

"When I was at the pharmacy I heard a big bang", Haji Abdul Kader told AFP.

The centuries-old Chawkbazar area of Dhaka characteristically has very narrow streets and residential buildings only inches apart.

Some floors of the destroyed buildings had chemicals and plastic in storage.

A almost identical incident of fire in 2010 in an old Dhaka building, which was also used as a chemical warehouse, killed more than 120 people in one of the worst fire tragedies in Bangladesh. They tried to flee but could not escape the fire.

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