Death toll rises to 46, what’s learnt so far

The multi-storey building gutted by fire on Bailey Road in the capitalSuvra Kanti Das

The death toll from the fire at a multi-storey building in the capital’s Bailey road rose to 46. The death toll is likely to rise.

Health minister Samanta Lal Sen confirmed this while speaking to the newspersons at the Sheikh Hasina National Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute this morning. Some 10 of the injured are undergoing treatment at the Sheikh Hasina National Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute and two at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

The fire broke out in the building at around 9:45 pm on Thursday. After dousing the fire the injured were taken to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital and Sheikh Hasina National Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute.

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The building which caught fire was seven-storied. There is a restaurant named ‘Kachchi Bhai’ on the second floor of the building. There were several other restaurants on the upper floors of the building. There was also a clothing store on the third floor. The eateries get crowded from the evening every day. Many people go there with their families.

A firefighter condoles a woman after rescuing
Suvra Kanti Das

According to eyewitnesses, the fire broke out on the first and second floor and spread upward later. Within a few minutes the members of the Fire Service and Civil Defence reached the spot and started dousing the fire. At the same time, they were also operating a rescue operation using a crane to bring down the people who resorted to the roof of the seven-storied building. Some 13 units of the fire service brought the fire under control at around 11:50 pm.

Injured are in critical condition

At around 2:00 am, health minister Samanta Lal Sen confirmed the death of 43 people. He told the newspersons that eight of the seriously injured patients were undergoing treatment at the burn institute and seven at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH). All of them are in critical condition, the health minister said.

Speaking to the newspersons at the DMCH at around 2:30 am, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun said there was a dead body at the Rajarbagh Police Lines Hospital too.

The fire service is working to put out the fire in the multi-storey building
Suvra Kanti Das

“So far, 44 deaths have been reported,” the IGP said.

Meanwhile, the process of handing over dead bodies to their relatives started at 5:41 am. The district administration, police and members of the fire service are involved in the process.

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The rescue operation

There was smoke all over the entire building. The members of the fire service started searching inside the building after dousing the fire and rescued several people unconscious. Several of the injured were taken to hospitals in a freezer van of the fire service.

Speaking to the newspersons at around 1:15 am, fire service director general Brigadier General Md Main Uddin said they had rescued three bodies from the building. Apart from that, some 45 people were rescued unconscious, including 21 women and four children. Besides, some 75 people were rescued alive, including 15 women.

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Md Main Uddin said there were only restaurants in the building, except a clothing store on the third floor. As a result, there were several gas cylinders on every floor. The fire spread rapidly as those gas cylinders blasted.

He said most of the people died of breathing problems due to the dense smoke. They didn’t have that much burn marks on their bodies.

A fireman told the newspersons that there were big gas cylinders from top to bottom of the building. People could not get out as those cylinders caught fire.

Speaking regarding the source of the fire, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) – 3 additional superintendent (ASP) of police Kamrul Hasan said at around 2:30 am that there is a coffee shop on the ground floor of the building. The fire started after a gas cylinder exploded there, according to eyewitnesses.

Mohammad Ali Mia, chief of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police, said the fire spread from the ground floor of the building.

The Dhaka district administration has started handing over bodies of those who were killed in a multi-storied building on Bailey road in the capital to their relatives
Dipu Malakar

The fire service has formed a five-member probe committee over the incident. The fire service is likely to conduct more searches inside the building today.

Meanwhile, IGP Abdullah Al-Mamun and Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) commissioner Habibur Rahman rushed to the spot upon hearing the news. The IGP told the newspersons, “One of our colleagues lost her daughter in the fire. Another one died at the Police Hospital. Please pray for those 75 people who have been rescued alive.”

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Tragic scenes at the DMCH

The people trapped inside the building on fire were taken to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital after rescue by ambulances.

Trolleys were kept ready at the gates of the emergency so that patients could be taken inside the hospital without any delay. The injured people were taken to the observation room of the emergency first.

Bashona Rani (middle) can't stop her tears after losing her daughter and grandchildren in the Bailey Road Fire. Photo taken from in front of Dhaka Medical College Morgue
Dipu Malakar

Several people sustained injuries after jumping off the building as it caught fire. At least 12 of them were admitted to the DMCH. Most of them sustained injuries on their hands and legs. One of them was Dwin Islam. He works as a chef at one of the restaurants in the building.

He was trying to get off the building using an internet connection cable. At one point, he fell as the cable tore up. Several others were injured trying to jump off the building. They are – Jewel, 30, Zobair, 20, Arif , 20, Iqbal, 35, Ujjal Sardar, 23, Rakib, 25, Shakeel, 22, Omar Farook, 43, Sizan, 25, Russell, 35 and Imran, 14.