Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 18 September 2019

Slum blaze forces thousands from their homes in Bangladesh

Three people were injured in the fire on the northern outskirts of the capital city of Dhaka

Thousands of people have been made homeless after a fire swept through a slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Friday evening, officials said.

Authorities on Sunday said more than 1,000 shanties were damaged in the Mirpur town blaze, which took more than six hours to extinguish. An investigation is now underway to determine the cause of the fire.

“According to our investigation committee, 1,200 shanties were damaged and out of this 750 shanties burnt totally,” Enamur Rahman, the junior minister for disaster management and relief, told Reuters.

Estimates for the number of people left homeless by the blaze range from 3,000 to 10,000, with only three injured. Many of those displaced have taken refuge in cramped camps at nearby schools which are closed for the week-long holiday, a fire service official told AFP.

“I could not salvage a single thing. I don’t know what will I do,” Abdul Hamid, 58, who ran a tea stall inside the slum, told AFP as he broke down in tears.

Many residents, largely low-income garment factory workers, were not in the slum when the fire broke out as they had left their homes to celebrate the Muslim Eid Al Adha holiday with their families.

“Otherwise, the damage would have been bigger,” local police chief Golam Rabbani said.

Mr Rahman said the government will initially provide a total of 500 tonnes of rice and 1.3 million taka (Dh56,000) for everyone affected. He rejected some news reports that said many more homes were destroyed.

Experts say fires are frequent in Dhaka due to lax safety measures.

At least 100 people have died so far this year in building fires across the densely populated metropolitan city.

Updated: August 18, 2019 05:06 PM

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