The fire started at the depot at around 9:00 PM on Saturday. The fire spread to a container containing chemical compounds, which exploded and caused massive destruction. The explosion killed at least 49 and wounded over 150.
Even 24 hours after the incident, the fire hasn’t been completely doused. Members of the Fire Service are still trying to extinguish the fire and are conducting a rescue operation. The army is also taking part in the rescue operation.
Bangladesh’s Smart Group is one of the partners in the depot. The chemical compound named hydrogen per Oxide, which caused the explosion, belonged to Al-Razi Chemical Complex, a subsidiary of Smart Group. Smart Group has investments in garment, LPG and food products sectors.
According to the company’s website, the chairman and managing director (MD) of BM container depot are Mr Bert Pronk and Mostafizur Rahman respectively while Mujibur Rahman, brother of Mostafizur, also the MD of Smart Jeans, is the director of the depot.
Mujibur Rahman, treasurer of Chattogram South unit Awami-League (AL), sought nomination from the party in the last parliamentary election to compete in Chattogram-16 constituency (Banskhali). But AL didn’t comply.
According to latest information, of the total 3.5 million shares of BD container, Mostafizur Rahman holds 138,000, Mujibur Rahman 15,000, Smart Jeans 183, 6000 and Pronk properties of Netherlands 151,1000.
When asked, Mujibur Rahman told Prothom Alo that “The unfortunate accident is undoubtedly painful for the whole country. All those who lost their lives in this accident are members of my family. Those who have been injured are my relatives and colleagues of Smart Group.
That is the reason why my company and I are ready to set an unprecedented instance of humanity in any need of the affected people.”
He said, “We would stand by the family members of the deceased persons with financial and mental support till the end. We would do our best to ensure proper treatment of the injured persons.”
Covered vans carry export goods from various factories across the country and these goods are then loaded in containers at this depot. These containers are shipped from the port following the customs activities. Similarly, containers carrying 37 kinds of imported goods are brought to the depot as well as released afterward. In fact, this industry started 24 year ago to reduce pressure on the port.
The BM Container Depot has a capacity of 10,000 unit containers. But its working capacity is 6,000 unit. Last year, this depot managed 77,000 units of containers carrying imported and export goods.
How many containers were at the depot on Saturday night could not be learned. However, Container Depot Owner Association secretary general Ruhul Amin said this depot, on average, accommodates more than 1,500 units of containers carrying imported and export goods.
About 90 per cent of goods being exported via Chittagong port are transported from 19 private container depots and 23 per cent of containers with imported goods are released from these depots. Privately owned depots also accommodate empty containers other than those ones with imported and export goods.