At least 39 people have died and more than 200 have been injured by a strong explosion at a container depot near Bangladesh’s largest seaport, where emergency crews were working around the clock on Sunday to try to put out the fire sparked by the blast.
The incident occurred around 9:15 p.m. local time on Saturday (10:00 a.m. Colombia time) in the Sitakunda area, in the southeastern city of Chittagong, high-ranking local official Ashraf Uddin told ‘Efe’, who provided the count casualty provisional.
Among the deceased are seven firefighters and some of the police personnel were injured. during rescue efforts, he added.
The official explained that at least 164 wounded are receiving treatment at the Chittagong medical hospital, while others 35 are in the hospital Park View and an unknown number are recovering at a military hospital.
The fire service official in Chittagong, Mohammad Kofil Uddin, told ‘Efe’ that at least 15 members of his team are receiving treatment at the military hospital, and two of them are in critical condition.
Many of the injured suffered cuts to their limbs, and at least three people with more than 65 percent burns to their bodies were taken to a military hospital. The fire broke out at the BM container facility located in the Sitakunda area of Chittagong, about 20 kilometers from Bangladesh’s largest seaport, at yesterday.
“We are not sure how it started, it could have been due to an act of sabotage”, the director of BM, Muzibur Rahman, reported to ‘Efe’, adding that at the time the explosion occurred, there were some 250 workers inside the warehouse.
Some containers began to explode. We have faced 16 units, but we have not yet been able to control the fire
The chief of the Chittagong fire service, Anisur Rahman, explained that as the flames began to spread “some containers began to explode. We have faced 16 units, but we have not yet been able to control the fire”, since the deposit has around 50,000. Some of those containers “had highly flammable chemicals,” and some of them are still being exploited, he concluded.
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The spokesman for the Bangladesh Inner Containers Association (BICA), Ruhul Amin Sikder, told ‘Efe’ that, according to his information, some containers stored hydrogen peroxide.
“After the fire incident some containers with hydrogen peroxide could have exploded”, so “the magnitude of the explosion is not less than what we saw in Beirut, in Lebanon, a few years ago”, he said.
Currently, the Asian country has 19 private container depots and four of them are located in Sitakunda. Industrial fires and accidents are common in Bangladesh, a country with few security measures and in which there are usually a large number of victims. In 2019, a fire at a chemical plant in the Bangladeshi capital killed 70 people and injured 55 others. Seven years earlier, at least 119 people died in a garment factory fire in the Asian country.
What is known so far is that there were “highly flammable” chemicals in some containers in the warehouse, which would be hindering the work of extinguishing the fire.
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As the fire spreadsome containers started to explodeChittagong Fire Service Chief Anisur Rahman explained.
Some stored hydrogen peroxide, a chemical compound that could have exploded after the fire broke out, spokesman for the Bangladesh Inner Container Association (BICA), Ruhul Amin Sikder, told ‘Efe’.
“The magnitude of the explosion is not less than what we saw in Beirut, in Lebanon, a few years ago“, warned the spokesman, who also stressed that this incident could cause less damage if the containers with hazardous materials were separated from each other.
Currently, the Asian country has 19 private container depots, and each one usually employs more than 1,000 workers; four of them are in Sitakunda, Sikder said.
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