The toll from the fire that broke out in a 22-storey commercial building in Banani area of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka rose to 20 on Thursday, Dhaka Tribune reported. The blaze broke out around 12.50 pm (12.20 pm Indian time) and was brought under control nearly four hours later.
Fire Service Deputy Director Dilip Kumar Ghosh, however, told the national daily that 19 people were confirmed dead and 70 were injured. Ghosh said many of the deceased had panicked and jumped from the building.
At least 60 people were injured and many are believed to be trapped in the building, Reuters reported, quoting officials. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.
Ghosh said that the building had narrow staircases and lacked basic firefighting measures.
“We have 21 firefighting units of the Dhaka Fire Service and Civil Defence working to douse the fire,” Fire Service Central Control Room Duty officer Mohammad Russel said. Air force helicopters were also deployed to rescue people from the rooftop.
Witnesses said some people were seen shouting for help from windows of the building and at least six of them jumped out of the building, BBC reported. “Three people appear to have died after jumping from upper floors of the building,” United Hospital spokesperson Sazzadur Rahman Shuvo told AFP. The victims reportedly had serious head injuries but no apparent burns.
Among the deceased was a Sri Lankan man, identified as Niras Chandra. Officer in charge of Cantonment police station Kazi Shahan Haque told the Dhaka Tribune that Chandra fell off the building while trying to escape the fire. He was declared dead at Kurmitola General Hospital.
The blaze comes a month after at least 78 people were killed in Dhaka’s old quarter on February 21.