Death toll from B’desh depot blast rises

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Currently, 10 fire service units are working along with a military rescue and chemical expert team comprising 200 members….reports Asian Lite News

The death toll due to a devastating blaze at a container depot in Bangladesh’s Chittagong district has increased to 49, with the blaze still continuing to rage on Monday despite efforts to douse it even after 38 hours, authorities said.

Currently, 10 fire service units are working along with a military rescue and chemical expert team comprising 200 members.

The devastating blaze broke out at about 10.30 p.m. on Saturday at the private BM Container Depot Ltd, a Netherlands-Bangladesh joint venture company, in Sitakunda.

Authorities said that within 40 minutes of the raging fire, there was a massive explosion and the blaze spread from one container to the other due to the presence of explosive chemicals.

Of the 49 victims, nine were fire fighting personnel. So far 23 victims have been identified.

More than 160 people were injured, including 10 policemen and 15 fire fighters.

Sitakunda Circle Additional Superintendent of Police, Ashraful Karim told IANS on Monday that the Chittagong district administration has formed a nine-member body to probe the origin of the raging inferno and so far, no case has been registered in connection to the incident.

He added there was no water left in the ponds surrounding the depot to put out the fire.

However, the containers will now be removed with an excavator, and a path will be formed for fire service personnel to supply water to all the spots, Karim told IANS.

The BM Container Depot did not have proper authorisation to store chemical agents in the facility, claims Tofazzal Hossain, an explosives inspector in the port city.

This directly contradicts with the depot officials’ earlier claim that they did have paperwork for storing such materials, he said.

Tofazzal said hydrogen peroxide, the chemical agent that many are assuming stoked the fire, may not be behind the explosion at all.

“Hydrogen peroxide is an accelerant agent, it can help spread the fire, but it never causes it,” he said.

Since the fire is yet to be contained, an inspection team led by Tofazzal could not get close to the area still on fire.

“We could not get to the bottom of it. But I’m certain there were other chemical agents or materials which explode under the right circumstances, such as they come into contact with fire or any other materials.”

Meanwhile, Fire Service Director General Brigadier Md Main Uddin confirmed to IANS that the Fire Service and Civil Defence has formed a five-member body to look into the incident and will submit an inquiry report within three working days.

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