Death toll from Dhaka tower fire jumps to 17: official

The previous fire that killed 70 happened in one of Dhaka's old quarters. (AFP/File)
Updated 28 March 2019

Death toll from Dhaka tower fire jumps to 17: official

  • No official statement saying how many people are still trapped inside the building
  • Last month a fire in Dhaka killed 70 people and injured 50

DHAKA: A huge fire in a Dhaka office block has killed at least 17 people, an official said Thursday, with desperate workers leaping to their deaths in the latest major inferno to hit the Bangladeshi capital.
"The death toll has risen to 17," Khurshid Alam, a fire service officer, told AFP, adding the toll may continue to rise as rescue crews search the torched building.

People were seen screaming for help from windows, while some lowered themselves down the side of the building. Media reports said at least six people had been seen leaping from flaming windows.

A military spokesman, Abdullah Ibne Zaid, said the body of a Sri Lankan man was brought to the army’s Kurmitola Hospital and another 45 people were being treated there. 

Helicopters dropped water on the blaze as flames and thick black smoke poured out of the windows.

Scores of firefighters were backed by navy and air force specialists, authorities said.

Hundreds of panicked onlookers crowded the streets in the upmarket Banani commercial district.

Shoikot Rahman ran to safety after hearing colleagues raise the alarm, narrowly escaping the smoke and flames engulfing the building.

“When I heard a fire broke out in the building, I quickly rushed out of the building,” he told AFP.

“Many of my colleagues are still trapped in the office.”

There was no official word on how many people were trapped inside.

Fire disasters regularly hit Bangladesh’s major cities where safety standards are notoriously lax.

A massive blaze in Dhaka’s old quarter on February 21 killed at least 70 people and injured 50 others.

Fire service officials said chemicals illegally stored in an apartment building exploded and set alight five buildings and nearby streets. That blaze took more than 12 hours to control.

A June 2010 fire in the nearby neighborhood of Nimtoli, one of the most densely populated districts of the capital, killed 123 people.

In November 2012, a fire swept through a nine-story garment factory near Dhaka killing 111 workers. An investigation found it was caused by sabotage and that managers at the plant had prevented victims from escaping.

Experts said inspections on buildings in the city frequently found fire stairs blocked with stored goods and exit doors locked.

Authorities are still carrying out a drive to close down illegal chemical stores and warehouses in apartment buildings, launched after the disaster in the old city.

Denmark: Police foil suspected extremist terror attack plans

Updated 14 min 56 sec ago

Denmark: Police foil suspected extremist terror attack plans

  • Police did not give an exact number for the arrests
  • “We now have the situation under control.”, said chief of police Skov

COPENHAGEN: Danish police have arrested “some 20 people” suspected of involvement in Islamist terrorism in a series of raids across the country, authorities said Wednesday.
Flemming Drejer, the operative head of the Denmark’s Security and Intelligence Service, said the suspects were “driven by a militant, Islamist motive.”
Copenhagen Police Chief Inspector Joergen Bergen Skov said some of them would be charged under the Scandinavian country’s terror laws on Thursday behind closed doors.
“Some had have procured things to make explosives and have tried to acquire weapons,” Bergen Skov told a joint press conference with the domestic intelligence service.
Drejer, the intelligence chief, said the arrests won’t change Denmark’s terror threat assessment, which “remains serious.”
“We look with great severity on a case like this one because it unfortunately confirms that there are people that have the intention and capacity to commit terror (attacks) in Denmark,” Drejer said.
Bergen Skov said police raided about 20 addresses in Denmark and six police departments across the country were involved. The raids and arrests were coordinated by the Copenhagen police.
No details were given as to what the target was or when an attack would take place.
Danish authorities have reported foiling several extremist attacks in recent years, including ones linked to the 2005 publication in a newspaper of 12 cartoons by various artists depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
A Danish court earlier this year gave a Syrian asylum seeker in Sweden a 12-year prison sentence for planning to explode one or more bombs in Copenhagen and stabbing random people with kitchen knives. Moyed Al Zoebi, 32, acted on behalf of the Daesh group, according to the Copenhagen City Court.
Al Zoebi had an accomplice, Dieab Khadigah, who was sentenced in Germany in July 2017 to a prison term of six-and-a-half years.
On Feb. 14, 2015, lone gunman Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein killed two people in separate shootings in Copenhagen, before being shot dead by police.