The death toll from the devastating fire at a private Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Sitakunda upazila in Chittagong has risen to 16.
The deceased includes a Fire Service personnel. His identity could not be known till writing this report on Sunday morning.
Earlier, the fire fighters said nine people were killed in the devastating fire. Three more bodies were brought at Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) from the spot on early Sunday morning. With them, the number of death has risen to 16.
CMCH sources confirmed about the number of deaths to reporters.
The identities of the deceased could not be known yet. Some 450 people have been admitted to different government and private hospitals and clinics including the CMCH with multiple burn injuries. They include police and Fire Service personnel.
The fire broke out at BM Container Depot in Kadamrasul of the upazila on late Saturday night.
The CMCH Police Outpost sub-inspector Nurul Alam said a fire broke out at the container depot around 10:30pm.
As Fire Service units worked to put it out, there was an explosion and then the fire spread.
SI Nurul added that initially it was being suspected that the container depot caught fire due to chemicals.
Police, Fire Service and local sources said the fire broke out inside BM Container Depot’s loading point around 10:30pm.
Around 11:45pm, there was a massive explosion and the fire spread from one container to another due to the presence of chemicals in one of the containers.
Chittagong Fire Service and Civil Defence Assistant Director Md Faruk Hossain Sikdar said: “Around 19 firefighting units are working to douse the blaze and six ambulances are also available on the spot.”
BM Container Depot is set up as an inland container depot which has been operating since May 2011. There were different kinds of import and export goods in the container. As there were chemicals, a massive explosion took place in the depot and fire quickly spread to nearby areas leaving hundreds of people. Most of the injured were sent to the CMCH.
Emergency rescuers were still working to put out the fire Sunday morning, and local hospitals and clinics, were treating the injured.
Ruhul Amin Sikder, spokesperson for the Bangladesh Inland Container Association (BICA), said some of the containers at the 30-acre private depot held chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide.
Mujibur Rahman, the director of the facility, said the cause of the fire was unknown. He added the facility, B.M. Container Depot, employs some 600 people.
In 2020, three workers were killed after an oil tank exploded in another container depot in the neighboring Patenga area.
There are 19 private inland container depots in the South Asian nation handling the country’s exports and a large chunk of import goods.