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Bangladesh: Deadly fire and explosions at container facility

At least 49 killed and over 300 injured after fire and explosions hit the container depot near the port city of Chittagong.

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire in Bangladesh.
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire that broke out at a container storage facility in Sitakunda, about 40km (25 miles) from the key port of Chittagong [AFP]

At least 49 people have been killed and more than 300 injured after a massive fire swept through a container depot in southeastern Bangladesh, according to senior officials.

The fire broke out at a container facility on Saturday night at Sitakunda, 40km (25 miles) from the port city of Chittagong, triggering multiple explosions, officials said.

“The death toll has risen to 49,” Elias Chowdhury, Chittagong’s chief doctor, told Al Jazeera. He added that more than 300 people have been injured in the blaze and subsequent explosions.

“The number of fatalities is expected to rise as some of the injured are in critical condition,” Chowdhury earlier told the AFP news agency.

Six firefighters are among those killed, Brig General MD Main Uddin, director general of Fire Service and Civil Defence, told Al Jazeera.

At least 21 firefighters, who had been at the scene attempting to douse the blaze, have been injured.

They were hurt during the secondary explosions.

INTERACTIVE_Bangladesh_Depot_fire_JUNE5_2022 1130
(Al Jazeera)

What caused the blaze?

The explosions shook the neighbourhood and shattered windowpanes of nearby houses, local residents said.

“I was standing inside the depot. The explosion just threw me some 10 metres [11 yards] from where I was standing. My hands and legs are burned,” Tofael Ahmed, a truck driver, said.

The explosion was so loud that it shook residential buildings several kilometres from the depot, said Mohammad Ali, 60, who has a nearby grocery store.