Bangladesh Depot Blast Leaves Over 40 Killed and Hundreds Injured

A fire and a massive explosion at a storage warehouse outside Chittagong, Bangladesh, killed at least 49 people and injured hundreds more.

After explosions in a container full of chemicals, a fire broke out at the BM Inland Container Depot, a storage facility in Sitakunda, at about Saturday midnight. The depot is located 134 miles southeast of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, near the country’s principal Chittagong Seaport.

Hundreds of people had flocked to the scene to put out the fire, including firefighters, police officers, and volunteers. However, a huge explosion rocked the site, engulfing many people in flames and throwing others into the air.

Brig Gen Main Uddin, director general of the Bangladesh fire service and civil defense, said at least nine firefighters were among those killed.

Many of those injured are thought to be in serious condition, and more than ten others were receiving treatment for burns that covered 60% to 90% of their bodies, he added.

Many people, including rescuers and journalists reporting on the fire, are still missing.

Local media reported that nearby hospitals were overwhelmed, with long lines of people waiting for treatment. The death toll had risen to 49 by Sunday evening, but local officials warned that the figure could grow as the fire burned for a second night.

Firefighters and volunteers continue trying to put out the fire, but the continuous explosions have hampered their work.

Local medics and health officials requested blood donations, adding that some of the injured had been evacuated to Dhaka. Meanwhile, the army has created sandbag barriers to prevent the chemicals from reaching the Indian Ocean.

Witnesses say the blast was so big it could be heard miles away. Windows of nearby buildings were smashed.

According to a regional government official, the warehouse contained millions of dollars in garments set to be shipped to the West. Bangladesh is the world’s second largest clothing exporter, but factories often ignore security measures.

Consequently, several major fires and other incidents have been reported in Bangladeshi factories in recent years. Locals said the fire in Sitakunda’s depot was comparable to the huge explosion that hit Beirut in 2020.