DHAKA: A massive fire engulfed a 22-storey building in Dhaka's posh Banani area on Thursday, killing at least 19 people, including a Sri Lankan national, and injuring 70 others, in the second major blaze to hit the Bangladeshi capital since last month.
The incident, which happened on Thursday afternoon in a building that houses several garment shops and internet service providers, left several people trapped inside as the blaze spread to two adjacent buildings.
Until now we can tell you that the inferno killed 19 people, one of them being a Sri Lankan national.
Seventy others are wounded," a senior fire official told PTI.
At least six of the killed, including the Sri Lankan national, died after they jumped off from various floors of the high-rise building for safety.
"A Sri Lankan citizen identified as Niras Chandra, was declared dead at Kurmitola General Hospital.
He fell off the building while trying to escape the fire," Kazi Shahan Haque, officer-in-charge (OC) of Cantonment police station, was quoted as saying by the Dhaka Tribune.
Another person, who was yet to be identified by the authorities, was declared dead at Kurmitola General Hospital after he fell off the building while trying to escape the fire.
"Similarly, three more male victims were declared dead on arrival by the doctors of United Hospital," officials were quoted as saying.
A 35-year-old student at Dhaka University died due to the effects of the blaze.
A woman identified as Amina Yeasmin died of her injuries at Apollo Hospital.
Several other injured people were rushed to the nearby hospitals.
"Over 30 people are being treated at different government and private health facilities, some of them with critical wounds caused by the blaze in the building," officials said.
Apart from 21 fire tenders, Bangladesh Air Force helicopters and Navy commandos teamed together to douse the blaze.
The fire is now extinguished, a fire service official told reporters.
Fire officials said the blaze erupted on the eighth floor of the building and gradually went upward engulfing ninth, 10th and 11th floors, but could not immediately say what sparked the inferno.
Five military and air force helicopters were deployed to drop water on the blaze as flames and thick black smoke poured out of the windows.
Firefighters broke open the building's glass walls to free toxic gas while over a dozen were rescued or they managed get themselves out from the burning building.
A 20-member military team has entered the building with necessary equipment to salvage the trapped people, a military officer at the spot said.
On February 20, at least 70 people were killed and over 50 injured when a fast-moving fire swept through an apartment buildings and chemical warehouses in Dhaka's congested Chawkbazar area.