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Chemical warehouses caused Chawkbazar, Nimtoli tragedies

Published : Friday, 22 February, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1001

The presence of chemical warehouses in crammed neighbourhood with narrow alleys and the shortage of water to douse the fire were the culprit behind the high number of deaths in both the cases of Churihatta fire in Chawkbazar and Nimtali tragedy in 2010.
The devastating fire at Nimtali killed more than 123 people and the number of people dead in Churihatta fire has risen to 81 people, till filing of this report at 7:33pm on Thursday.  
At least 70 people were killed and around 50 others  injured in the devastating fire at Churihatta in Chawkbazar area on Wednesday night.  In June 2010, over 123 people were burnt to death and 50 others injured in an identical tragedy at Nimtoli of the crowded Old Dhaka and it was a plastic factory responsible for the quick spread of the fire.
Maj AKM Shakil Newaz, Director (operations and maintenance) of Fire Service and Civil Defence said that the narrow alleys and the shortage of water in the area were the major hurdles the firefighters faced while dousing the blaze which broke out at a chemical warehouse last night.
This whole fire incident was in a multi-hazardous zone, he said and added there were transformers, cars with flammable cylinder bottles and a lot of highly-combustible chemical liquids there making it easier for the fire to spread.
After the Nimtoli incident demands were raised to relocate chemical warehouses and stores from there but it failed.  Eight years after the devastating fire at Nimtoli that killed 123 people, fire in a chemical warehouses took the lives of 81 people and left 50 others injured.   
According to the Fire Service, the fire started around 10:45pm at a four-storey building owned by Wahid Chairman and it spread to four nearby buildings quickly.
The ground floor of the building is rented out to shops and second floor is used as a warehouse for toiletries and various plastic products. The top two floors are residential units.
Fire fighters from 37 units rushed to the spot quickly but the narrow lanes prevented their fire engines from reaching the scene and forcing them to use long hosepipes while the air force lent its hands sending helicopters which poured waters on the fire from the sky.
Many plastic containers of perfume, air fresheners and other burnt materials were seen strewn over a large area during a visit to the scene on Thursday morning.  

A fire fighter official told the Daily Observer, "The fire spread quickly because of flammable materials on the second floor engulfed nearby buildings and increased the number of casualties."
The chemical warehouses and stores are mostly located in Mitford, Armanitola, Kayettuli, Agamasi Lane, Islambagh, Bangshal, Shaheednagar, Chawkbazar, Imamganj and Babubazar areas.
Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Sayeed Khokon on Thursday said, "We will not let any such chemical warehouse to run  operation in Dhaka anymore." He said no chemical warehouse will be allowed inside Dhaka.
 "We were conducting a drive to evict such factories and warehouses since Monday," Mayor Khokon told journalists after visiting the burned site in Churihatta.

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