Listen to this article Fire in Bangladesh Market Put Out by Firefighters and Army
In the early hours of Tuesday, April 4th, a massive fire broke out in a crowded shopping complex in the Bangabazar area of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital. Around 3,000 shops, mostly cloth markets, populate the complex, and vendors fully stocked them ahead of the upcoming Eid festival later this month.
The complex caught fire, and the blaze quickly spread, causing approximately 5,000 stores to burn down. Moreover, several firefighters who had promptly responded to the scene suffered injuries. Black smoke billowed from the burning complex, as captured by images taken from the area. In a heartwarming display of kindness, onlookers, including children, formed a human chain and passed plastic containers filled with water to the firefighters, who were working tirelessly to extinguish the fire.
“I have never seen such a fire in my life. Abdul Mannan, one of the shop owners affected by the fire, expressed his anguish over the loss of his business, stating that everything in his shop was burnt down. He was talking to his relatives on the phone while breaking down in tears.
Extinguishing the Fire
Firefighters and army personnel were tirelessly working to put out the fire, which took several hours to extinguish. Brigadier General Main Uddin, the director of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, confirmed that several firefighters were injured, with two of them being in critical condition. Despite the severity of the situation, the responders persevered to prevent the fire from spreading further and causing more damage.
Despite warnings from Uddin’s department in 2019 that the market and surrounding buildings were “risky,” the businesses did not pay heed, and there were no apparent efforts to comply with fire safety norms.
Investigating the Cause
An investigating committee will examine the cause of the fire, which is the latest in a series of fire disasters that have plagued Bangladesh in recent years. The fires have mostly occurred in industries that serve the country’s booming domestic economy. These industries often neglect fire safety standards. The clothing sector of Bangladesh, which is under close scrutiny by international retailers, has made significant progress in improving its safety standards since the tragic incidents of a fire in 2012 and a building collapse in 2013, both of which resulted in the deaths of over 1,200 workers. However, other industries, especially those without similar international scrutiny, continue to pose risks to workers and the public due to poor safety standards.
The Bangladeshi government has faced criticism from international bodies and labor rights groups for its inadequate response to labor rights abuses and poor working conditions. The government has pledged to improve conditions, but the country’s rapid economic growth has often come at the cost of worker safety and welfare.
The massive fire in the Dhaka shopping complex highlights the urgent need for the Bangladeshi authorities to strengthen and enforce fire safety standards across all industries. We must make every effort to prevent the loss of lives and livelihoods resulting from fires and other workplace accidents, as such disasters are unacceptable.
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