Bangladesh Fire Kills at Least 43 in Shopping Mall

Bangladesh Fire Kills at Least 43 in Shopping Mall

At least 43 people were killed and dozens were injured when a fire ripped through a shopping mall late Thursday night in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, officials said.

“So far, we know that 43 have died,” Dr. Samanta Lal Sen, the health minister, told reporters outside a hospital where some of the injured were being treated. “The condition of those who are wounded is not good,” he added.

At least 75 people were injured, fire officials said. Some were being treated at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Mr. Sen said.

The fire erupted at about 9:51 p.m. on the mall’s second floor, which features a popular biryani restaurant. It quickly spread to the rest of the seven-story building, fire officials said, ripping through a clothing store on the third floor.

It took crews at least two hours to put the fire out, officials said.

Video showed that most of the floors were charred by the flames. A firefighter atop a fire engine ladder could be seen trying to extinguish a small fire that was still burning near one of the upper floors. Another video showed survivors being lowered onto a ladder as a crush of emergency workers, media and onlookers waited to receive them on street below.

The shopping mall, on Bailey Road, houses a mix of eateries and stores. Almost every floor has a restaurant and most have gas cylinders, a fire official told a television news reporter. He added that the cylinders may have played a role in the fire spreading so quickly.

It was unclear what caused the fire.

The mall is a popular spot on Thursdays, the end of the workweek in Bangladesh.

Alamgir Hossain, an assistant director at the fire department, told The New York Times that a restaurant called Kacchi Bhai had been offering a special on Thursday night.

Mass-casualty fires and industrial disasters, particularly in garment factories, have been a recurring problem in Bangladesh. The steady economic growth of the country of 170 million people has been a regional success story in recent years, but human rights and labor organizations have long expressed concern about poor working conditions and workplace safety measures.

The worst of the disasters happened in 2013, when the collapse of an eight-story garment factory killed more than 1,100 people. In 2021, a factory fire in the city of Narayanganj killed at least 51 people.

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Bruce Killigang

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