Office workers killed in building fires in Bangladesh
Rohantha De Silva
6 April 2019
Major fires continue to hit Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Late last week 26 office workers were killed and at least 70 others were injured in a fire at FR Tower, a 23-storey building in an upmarket commercial district of the city. Two days later another fire razed to the ground about 300 small shops in a market district in the city’s north.
This week three more fires were reported in Dhaka. On Wednesday night blazes occurred at the Salauddin Specialised Hospital at Wari and the Tropical Tower at Paltan, both in the city’s south, and early on Thursday morning a fire gutted 25 small shops in a row of 1,300. Although no casualties were reported, poor building standards and fire safety, along with inadequate emergency services, have made the city a death trap for its residents.
Successive Bangladeshi governments have claimed they will crack down on safety and building-code violations, without any real changes being implemented because planning, construction and safety regulations are all subordinated to the drive for profit.
The FR Tower blaze occurred on March 28. Nineteen bodies were found inside the building and several other people died attempting to escape from the multi-storey building using computer leads and other cables as ropes.
The fire was only brought under control after four hours by 22 firefighting units, backed by army, navy and air force personnel and equipment. Air force helicopters were used to drop water on the building. As is common in most Dhaka buildings, there were no water sprinklers installed in the multi-storey building.