National, Front Page

Tragedy of towering inferno

Bailey Road fire deaths now 46: Three held

Published : 01 Mar 2024 10:54 PM | Updated : 02 Mar 2024 04:18 PM
  • t

In one of the worst fire tragedies of the time, at least 46 people including 26 women and three children, were killed and 22 critically injured in the deadly fire that originated in a seven-storey building housing the ‘Kacchi Bhai’ outlet at Bailey Road in the capital on Thursday night.

Twelve people who suffered burn injuries in the fire were undergoing treatment, and none of them is out of danger, said Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Samanta Lal Sen.

Md Shahjahan Shikdar, deputy assistant director (media cell) of Fire Service and Civil Defence headquarters, said the fire broke out around 9:45 pm on Thursday in a shop on the first floor of the building housing several upscale restaurants. 

A total of 13 units of the fire service brought the fire under control at around 11:50pm with the help of police and RAB.

Firefighters rescued 75 people, including 42 in an unconscious state, from the rooftop and different floors of the seven-storey Green Cozy Cottage, he added.

He said most of the people who jumped off the building  died  from burns or suffocation. 

Witnesses said that other than burn injuries, many were hurt trying to escape the fire by jumping off the building.

Fire officials said the blaze spread fast due to the presence of gas cylinders on several floors in the restaurant kitchens. People could not leave the building due to smoke in the staircase.

Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD) Director General (DG) Brig 

Gen Md Main Uddin said on Friday that there was no fire safety in the building, while there was only a small stairwell in the whole building.

He said earlier  the FSCD had issued three notices to the building owners previously as part of routine monitoring. But no step was taken in this regard.

He came up with the remark while talking to reporters in front of the burnt ‘Green Cozy Cottage Shopping Mall’ on Friday afternoon.

DG Main Uddin also said that one of the rooms where people took shelter during the fire had no windows.

The building had permission for housing commercial entities, only offices up to the seventh floor. There was no permission to house any restaurants, showrooms, or other facilities, said Ashraful Islam, an urban planner and director of RAJUK’s detailed area plan (DAP) project.

According to the Fire Service, there were two electronics shops, a juice bar, and a coffee shop on the ground floor. Except for a clothing shop on the second floor, all the other floors were housing restaurants.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday expressed her anger over there being no fire exit in the commercial building at Bailey Road in the capital that had caught fire last night claiming 46 lives so far and injuring many others.

“Despite having arranged fire extinguishers, people are not so conscious. You have witnessed a fire in a multi-storeyed building at Bailey Road in the capital which had no fire exits,” she said.

The prime minister made the remarks while inaugurating the National Insurance Day-2024 at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) in Dhaka on Friday.

She said her government has instructed time and again to ensure proper safety measures that included setting up fire extinguishers and fire exits in the building.

“But, they (Bailey Road building authority) did not comply with the order,” she said.

She continued: “Forty- six people have died. What could be more painful than that?”

Abdullah Al Masud, secretary to the home ministry’s Security Services Division, said all the restaurants, except for some, had no arrangements for fire extinguishers. An investigation committee will find out who is responsible for the incident. 

Over the years, the country saw a number of such devastating fires, mostly in commercial space buildings, that claimed hundreds of lives.

In September 2023, at least 217 shops were gutted in a fire that broke out at Dhaka's Mohammadpur Krishi Market.

A deadly fire at Banga Bazar, the largest clothing marketplace in Bangladesh, destroyed 3,845 shops, causing a total damage of around Tk300 crore in April 2023.

In August 2022, six charred bodies were found inside a restaurant after a blaze in an adjoining plastic factory in the Devidwarghat area of Chawkbazar in the old Dhaka.

In March 2019, a total of 26 people were killed and 73 others injured in a deadly fire that quickly engulfed FR Tower, a 22-storey building in Banani, Dhaka.

Dhaka District Administration PIO Arifur Rahman said out of 46, it has been possible to identify 41 of the dead. Among them, the bodies of 40 people have been handed over to their relatives. And to confirm the identity, the process of DNA testing of 3 dead bodies has started.

He also said the bodies of 6 people of the Bailey Road fire were in the mortuary till 5:00pm. DNA tests have been conducted to identify 3 of them. 

“Relatives claiming the bodies of the remaining 3 are coming to Dhaka. They will be scrutinized and further action will be taken. A relative of one of the deceased is reported to be coming from Kushtia. The bodies will be stored in the mortuary,” he added.

Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) Director General (DG) M Khurshid Hossain said there was a small shop on the ground floor from where a gas cylinder exploded. The fire had spread from there. Since the building was filled with restaurants, naturally there were gas cylinders, he said while talking to reporters after visiting the site and meeting the injured at Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery around 11:30 am on Friday.

Asked about the fire safety system in the building, he said “The building had an emergency fire extinguishing system, and they tried to use it. However, when many cylinders exploded, the fire went out of control.”

On Thursday night, Mohammad Ali Mia, chief of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police, also said the fire started from the ground floor of the building.

The Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD) headquarters has formed a five-member committee to investigate the fire incident.

The committee will be headed by Lt Col Mohammad Tajul Islam Chowdhury, director (operation and maintenance), Department of Fire Service and Civil Defence.

Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) Friday formed a seven-member committee to investigate any potential faults in the design and approval process of a building on Bailey Road that caught fire last night.

The committee was asked to submit its report by the next seven working days to the chairman of Rajuk, said chief town planner Md Ashraful Islam.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Samanta Lal Sen said at least 10 victims are admitted to Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery in critical condition as their throats were burnt in the fire. Two other injured patients are currently receiving treatment at the DMCH.

“Most of the victims of the Bailey Road fire succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning. In situations of a fire where people are unable to escape from enclosed spaces, the generated smoke permeates their airways. Unfortunately, everyone in this incident faced a similar predicament,” he said.

The health minister Dr. Samanta Lal Sen said “Regrettably, none of those exposed to this poison has managed to survive. Sadly, they have all passed away. Those currently undergoing treatment are not out of danger, and we are diligently providing care right from the initial stages.”

Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh has said that the building code is being flagrantly violated in the construction of buildings, and there is negligence in supervision.

He said this to reporters after inspecting the scene on Bailey Road in the capital at around 3:30pm on Friday.

President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday expressed profound shock and sorrow over the loss of lives and property in the devastating fire at a building at Bailey Road in the capital.

On the first floor of the building, there were shops of Gadget & Gear, a mobile showroom and a tea stall ‘Cha Chumuk’ from where the fire reportedly broke out.

On the second and third floors, there was a popular restaurant ‘Kacchi Bhai’ and attire showroom ‘Illiyeen’.

On the fourth and fifth floors there were eateries ‘Khanas’, ‘Fuko’ and ‘Pizza Inn’ respectively.

On the sixth and seventh floors, there were ‘Zasdi’, ‘Street Oven’ and ‘Ambrosia’.

Three people have been detained in connection with the fire in the building on Bailey Road in the capital. 

The three detainee are Anwarul Haque and Shafiqur Rahman, two owners of a food shop named ‘Cha Chumuk’ in that building and Zainuddin Jishan, manager of another food shop named ‘Kacchi Bhai’.

Additional Commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Kh Mahid Uddin, disclosed it in a press conference at the media centre of DMP on Friday.

“They were detained on Friday. They are being interrogated,” he added.