The final official death toll in Thursday’s skyscraper inferno in city’s Banani today stood at 25 with rescuers overnight extracting more bodies from rubbles.
“The toll eventually stood at 25,” Mayor of North Dhaka Atiqul Islam told
an instant news briefing at the scene in the capital’s posh Banani area today
as fire service rescuers aided by military troops nearly completed their
search for bodies inside the 22-storey FR Tower.
He reconfirmed that all but one were Bangladeshis while officials earlier
said the fire killed one Sri Lankan national as he jumped off the building in
his abortive attempt to escape the blaze.
Fire service officials earlier said most of the casualties took place
inside the high-rise building while their bodies were found during the search
A police spokesman said 24 of the bodies were handed over to relatives
while the body of the 25th victim, believed to be a government official, was
kept at a government hospital for DNA test.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina earlier mourned the casualties and ordered
free treatment of 73 wounded people in different hospitals.
Housing Minister SM Rezaul Karim, meanwhile, called the tragedy as a man-
made “massacre” attributing the blaze to flawed design of the skyscraper that
was raised ignoring safety standards and violating government rules.
He said according to the government papers, the building was supposed to be
a 18-storey structure while four more floors were constructed defying the
design approved by the authorities.
“The people, whoever they are, will not be spared . . . they will be
exposed to stern punitive actions,” Karim told newsmen while visiting the
Local Government Minister Md Tazul Islam today also echoed the housing
minister while visiting the spot, saying “the responsible person, whoever he
is, will have to face consequence”.
Fire service officials were yet to comment what sparked the blaze that
originated at around 12.55 pm yesterday and quickly spread to two adjacent
high-rise buildings while all the three structures housed offices and
commercial entities including restaurants and a private TV channel.
But newsmen and residents in the neighbourhood said it may have originated
from the eighth floor inside the complex.
It took fire fighters more than six hours to extinguish the blaze with
armed forces personnel when five military and air force helicopters were
deployed to drop water and air lift trapped people.
People trapped inside were seen waving frantically and shouting for help
from windows on the upper floors of the building when passersby stood
watching and praying below as heavy smoke deterred rescuers efforts to get
close to them.
Firefighters, however, shattered the building’s glass walls to free toxic
gas and eventually rescued over 70 people.
Despite the end of the search campaign inside the ravaged structures,
police blocked a major thoroughfare that passed through the structures for
safety reasons as broken glasses were dangling from the largely glass-fitted
outer structures of the buildings.
Several government authorities including the fire service overnight
launched investigations into the fire while fire service officials said their
5-member committee was asked to submit report within seven days.
The fire broke out barely a month after a massive blaze in Dhaka’s old
quarter that killed at least 70 people and injured 50 others while fire
service officials attributed the blaze to chemicals illegally stored in
dilapidated buildings there.