DHAKA, BANGLADESH // A devastating fire raced through several apartment complexes in the Bangladeshi capital, killing at least 108 people and injuring more than 100 others, officials and local media said today. A fire official, Nazrul Islam, said the blaze started when an electric transformer exploded late last night, igniting a three-storey apartment building in the Najirabazar area of old Dhaka. He said the blaze then spread to other buildings.
He said some injured people might have died later on the way to hospital or while there, but could not give an exact figure. Citing officials at the scene and hospital doctors, ATN Bangla television station reported that at least 108 people had died, and that more than 100 others were injured. He said the firefighters had the blaze under control and that a rescue operation was still in operation. He said the victims included many guests of a wedding party on the roof of a building.
Bangla Vision TV station quoted unnamed fire officials as saying the fire spread to at least 20 apartment complexes. TV footage showed firefighters and residents carrying injured on tricycle rickshaws to hospitals. "I haven't seen such a scenario in my 40 years of career," Shamanta Lal Sen, the hospital's burns unit chief at the state-run Dhaka Medical College Hospital told reporters. Bangladesh's prime minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her shock at the incident and offered her condolences to the families of the victims, and ordered authorities to provide all medical support to the injured.