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Chittagong depot fire extinguished after 61 hours

The devastating Chittagong depot fire could finally be extinguished on 7 June at noon, approximately 61 hours after the fire broke out on Saturday at 9.00 PM (local time).

The firefighters found two more bodies which rose the death toll to 43 from the fire incident at the BM Container Depot Ltd, located some 40 kilometres away from the port city of Chittagong.

“The fire is now under full control. There is no possibility of further spread of fire,” confirmed Lieutenant Colonel Ariful Islam Himel.

Around 200 military men assisted firefighters in extinguishing one of the biggest fire incidents in Bangladesh's history.

Lieutenant Colonel Ariful Islam Himel said the depot has more than 105,000 m² of an area where over 4,000 containers were stored, some having dangerous chemicals, thus it took long hours to bring the fire under control.

There were 27 chemical laden boxes in the depot and one blasted at 11 PM on Saturday (4 June) night killing many on the spot with several hundred people sustaining burn injuries. Chemicals in 15 boxes vanished as they burnt during the last three days.

Fire service Chittagong division deputy director, Anisur Rahman said though these chemical laden boxes have now been moved to safer places, risks of further incidents remain as they are still hot.

In the meantime, the Chittagong customs authority issued a mass notification on 7 June, urging all shippers to take delivery of import containers in time, by 30 days from the seaport and 21 days from the airport. Otherwise, it threatened to take actions in line with the concerned provisions of the customs act.

Meanwhile, the department of environment said the depot had been storing hydrogen peroxide without taking permission from the proper authorities. To get the environment department’s approval for storing chemicals, a facility needs to have a license from the fire service and the department of explosives.

Sharar Nayel
Asia Correspondent

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