Dhaka,  Sunday
14 April 2024

From Nimtoli to Bailey Road 

Imran Ali

Published: 08:03, 2 March 2024

From Nimtoli to Bailey Road 

Photo : Messenger

Over the past 14 years, 267 individuals have perished in the worst fire incidents in the capital. Following the tragic events at FR Tower in Banani, Nimtoli, Churihatta, and now Bailey Road, Dhaka has witnessed a series of devastating tragedies. Additionally, several major fire accidents, including those at Bangabazar and New Market, have occurred in recent years.

Experts believe that these incidents stem primarily from a lack of accountability.

Security analyst Major General (Retired) Abdur Rashid said, "To prevent fire accidents, raising public awareness is paramount. Despite our efforts in institution and market construction, the risk of fire remains. We must prioritise adherence to fire safety procedures. The critical time preceding the fire service's arrival is crucial. Local equipment for firefighting needs to be readily available through concerned institutions.”

Nimtoli Tragedy

On June 3, 2010, an electric transformer exploded in Nimtoli, located in the capital's Chankharpool area. The ensuing fire engulfed a nearby chemical warehouse, spreading to several adjacent buildings filled with flammable materials and chemicals. By the time the fire was extinguished, 124 people had been reduced to ashes, with approximately 50 individuals sustaining injuries. 23 houses, shops, and factories were consumed by the blaze.

Churihatta Tragedy

On February 20, 2019, around 10:30 pm, a cylinder explosion occurred in the Churihatta area of Chawkbazar, Dhaka. The fire, fuelled by chemicals stored in Wahed Mansion, rapidly escalated, engulfing vehicles stuck in traffic on the road, including pickups, private cars, rickshaws, pushcarts, and motorcycles. More than 50 individuals trapped in traffic lost their lives in what became known as the ‘death valley’ of Churihatta Mor.

The inferno raged for 14 hours before being brought under control, resulting in the immediate deaths of 67 people. The death toll later climbed to 71, with hundreds suffering injuries.

FR Tower Tragedy

On March 28, 2019, a fire erupted on the eighth floor of Banani's FR Tower, a 22-story building. The blaze claimed the lives of at least 27 individuals and injured over 100 more.

Moghbazar Blast

On June 27, 2021, around 7:30 pm, an explosion rocked the ground floor of Rakhi Neer building in Moghbazar Wireless area. Located opposite Aarong's showroom and Rashmono Hospital, the blast resulted in the deaths of 12 people and left over 200 injured. Witnesses described the explosion as deafening, unlike anything they had heard before.

Fire in Bangabazar

A fire erupted in the Bangabazar complex in the early hours of April 4, 2023. Alongside the Bangabazar Complex, four other markets suffered damage in the blaze. The fire originated from an embroidery tailor shop on the third floor, likely ignited by a cigarette or mosquito coil. Consequently, 3,845 traders lost everything, amounting to a loss of Tk 305 crore.

Bailey Road Tragedy

A fire broke out at a multi-storey building on Bailey Road in the capital on Thursday night (February 29, 2024). Additionally, 18 people are hospitalised with burns.

The fire ignited at Green Cozy Cottage, a seven-storey building on Bailey Road, around 9:30 pm. Each floor housed restaurants bustling with customers. Despite the news spreading, many individuals were unable to evacuate through the ground floor entrance, forcing them to seek refuge on the rooftop.

Upon receiving the news, 13 units of the fire service swiftly arrived at the scene. Efforts commenced immediately, focusing on extinguishing the flames and rescuing those trapped. After two hours of relentless work, the fire brigade successfully rescued the trapped individuals one by one. Although the fire was quelled after approximately two hours, it claimed the lives of 46 individuals, including women and children.

Experts attribute the recurring tragedies to the failure to implement recommendations from investigation committees due to the lack of accountability among concerned institutions and agencies. They emphasise that major accidents occur due to the inadequate coordination between the city corporation, fire service, and other relevant organizations.

Former Director of Fire Service and Civil Defence, Major (Retd) Shakil Newaz Khan, expressed frustration, saying, “During my tenure in the fire department, I submitted numerous investigation reports and recommendations to the relevant authorities, but to no avail. Had these recommendations been implemented, such catastrophic fires could have been prevented. I spared no one in issuing these reports and letters.”

Responding to inquiries, Shakil Newaz Khan highlighted the increasing number of accidents due to the lack of coordination between city corporations, fire services, and other relevant organizations.

RAB spokesperson, Commander Khandaker Al Moin, said that incidents of fire accidents and explosions could be reduced with active participation from Titas, WASA, RAJUK, and city corporations, alongside increased awareness among the general populace.