Fire in Bangladesh Causes Dozens of Deaths

( – At least 46 people are dead, and dozens more have suffered injuries as a result of a deadly fire at a commercial facility in Bangladesh on February 29. The blaze, which reportedly started in a small restaurant on the ground floor of Green Cozy Cottage Shopping Mall on Bailey Road in Dhaka, spread so quickly that multiple people were trapped inside.

Officials say most of the victims likely suffocated as the shopping facility filled with thick, toxic smoke. The mall reportedly lacked fire exits and housed only a single staircase, complicating their attempts to flee. Several died after attempting to jump to safety from the upper floors.

Footage captured by Al Jazeera paints a devastating picture of the fire, which reportedly raged out of control for several hours. Firefighters continuously worked to push back the flames, which swelled to engulf at least two stories at points, while hundreds of horrified bystanders helplessly looked on from the street.

Firefighters on the scene continuously work to push back and douse the flames, which shoot at least two stories high at points, while hundreds of horrified bystanders helplessly look on from the street.

First responders successfully extracted around 75 people early on by deploying a bucket truck and raising ladders against the side of the building. However, they quickly lost the ability to intervene from the ground level in this manner as the intense blaze spread to the mall’s upper floors.

Exactly what triggered the sudden fire isn’t yet clear. However, fire service leader Brigadier General Main Uddin suggested that it likely stemmed from a gas leak or started with one of the restaurant’s stoves. He also criticized the safety status of the building itself, noting the presence of gas cylinders on all floors and even within the stairwells.

Most of the victims were transported to either Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery (BNPS) facility or Dhaka Medical College Hospital for care. By 10:00 a.m. the next morning, doctors had already declared at least 33 individuals dead, noting that they fully expected the death toll to rise.

Health Minister Samanta Lal provided an update on the status of the victims on March 1, noting that the 46 people confirmed dead suffocated after inhaling carbon monoxide within the thick smoke. Another 10 of the victims, all of whom suffered critical inhalation burns to the throat, continued to receive care within BPNS’ intensive care unit.

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