A fire that broke out Saturday night following an explosion at BM Container Depot, an inland container depot in Chattrogram's Sitakunda, has left hundreds including fire service officials and policemen injured and is feared to have killed many.
Four people have already succumbed to their injuries, Panchlaish Police Station Sub-Inspector Nurul Alam told UNB. However, this number is expected to rise significantly.
Around 200 injured persons have so far been taken to Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH). Ambulances carrying injured persons were still coming to the hospital nearly three hours after the explosion.
Early accounts indicate an initial fire at the depot broke out around 9:45pm.
Chattogram Fire Service and Civil Defence Assistant Director Faruk Hossain said as firefighters worked to put out the flame, there was a large explosion in one of the containers around 11pm, followed by a series of small ones, and since then the fire has been out of control.
"The explosion was heard within a radius of 4km from the spot," Faruk added.
Sixteen firefighting units have so far been dispatched to fight the flames but they were yet to tame it till the filing of this report. Firefighters from Cumilla and Feni are also joining them, but the presence of highly flammable chemicals in the containers has complicated the situation.
"We are trying our best. We don't know when we will be able to control the fire fully as the number of containers is huge. We don't know what kind of products are there inside the containers but we are informed that some containers contain imported chemicals that complicated the situation," one of the firefighters said.
President of the association of inland container depot owners Nurul Qayyum Khan said he suspects the explosion may have occurred due to a container with a shipment of hydrogen peroxide that was to be exported in the coming days.
Chattogram Civil Surgeon Ilias Chowdhury has requested everyone to rush to the blood bank of CMCH and donate blood.
Doctors from nearby government and private hospitals have been requested to report to CMCH as the tide of injured persons arriving there has been unrelenting.
Bangladesh Red Crescent Society volunteers are working with the hospital authorities to collect blood from the donors.
At the request of the civil surgeon, many doctors and nurses have joined the doctors at CMCH to deal with the situation.
"It is not yet clear what caused the fire. But I think it started from a container. Arrangements are being made to ensure that the injured get the best treatment; we will bear all costs," BM Container Depot Director Mujibur Rahman told UNB.
"Those who have sustained injuries will get maximum compensation. Also, we will take responsibilities for all the victims' families," he added.
BM Container Depot, a Dutch-Bangladeshi joint venture, was set up as an inland container depot (ICD) which is operating from May 2011, one of 19 such ICDs located in Chattogram.
The chairman of the depot is Dutch businessman Bert Pronk, who has other investments too in Bangladesh, while the managing director is Mustafizur Rahman of the Smart Group of Industries.
Source: United News of Bangladesh