At least 49 killed in Bangladesh container fire


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Firefighters worked for a second day on Sunday (5 June) to extinguish a large fire that has killed at least 49 people at a container depot in southeast Bangladesh at Sitakunda, 40 km (25 miles) from the port city of Chittagong, injuring more than 200 after breaking out at the shipping container facility on Saturday night, triggering a huge blast and multiple container explosions.

Chemical-filled containers were still exploding on Sunday as firefighters attempted to douse the fire and officials said the army had joined the mission. Drone footage showed thick columns of smoke and rows of burnt-out containers and local residents commented that the explosions had shaken the neighbourhood and shattered windows in nearby buildings

Chittagong civil surgeon Mohammed Elias Hossain said that the death toll could rise as some injured were in critical condition and the rescue operations were ongoing. All doctors in the district had been called in to help tackle the situation, while social media was flooded with appeals for emergency blood donations.

Five firefighters have been confirmed as among the deceased.

It has not yet been confirmed as to the cause of the fire, but fire service officials said they suspected it may have originated in a container of hydrogen peroxide and spread quickly to other containers.

Newton Das, a fire service official, said there were still explosions on Sunday afternoon of containers containing hydrogen peroxide and others containing sulphur. “It’s really getting harder as toxic fumes engulfed the area,” he said.

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