DHAKA, BANGLADESH // A firefighter died and 11 people were injured after a massive fire broke out in a high-rise office building above a shopping mall in Dhaka today, a hospital official said. The fire was still raging more than three hours after it started, and it was unclear if more people were trapped inside the inferno. "The dead man was a fireman who was stationed permanently in the Bashundhara City shopping mall," said Nurul Islam, manager of Shamarita Hospital, where the dead and injured were rushed to.
Those hurt had suffered serious burns, a hospital official said. "The fire broke out in the 18th and 19th floor in the high-rise corporate offices above the six-floor shopping mall," a police spokesman said. He added the 21-floor office block was empty because Friday is a weekend in Bangladesh. The shopping mall, which is normally open on Fridays and includes a cinema complex, had been evacuated.
The police spokesman said firefighters were having trouble getting beyond the 12th floor to establish if more people were trapped and a helicopter was being used to douse the flames with water. Witnesses at the scene said police had cordoned off the area and about 20,000 people were gathered outside the mall. The Dhaka City mayor, Sadek Hussain, had ordered all fire engines in the capital to the scene, according to local television station Bangla Vision, with army personnel also deployed to help bring the blaze under control.
The Bashundhara City complex, which opened in 2004 and took six years to build, was the first Western-style shopping mall to operate in the impoverished country. *AFP