The police on Monday started collecting DNA samples to identify victims of the devastating fire at a private container depot in southeastern Bangladesh, even as authorities struggled to determine the cause of the blaze that killed at least 49 people. A massive fire broke out at the chemical container depot near the country's main Chittagong Seaport on Saturday night. The number of fatalities is likely to go up as some of the injured are in critical condition and at least three firefighters remain missing. A forensic team led by Chittagong's Criminal Investigation Department Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Jahangir Alam set up a booth in front of the Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) on Monday to cross-match DNA samples of unidentified victims of the fire, The Dhaka Tribune newspaper reported. Of the 49 dead consisting mostly of workers of the private depot and firefighters, 13 have been identified so far. Over 450 people were also injured in the incident.The tragedy raised concern over the safety standard in the country's industrial sector. An explosives inspector in the port city said the authorities of BM Container Depot did not have proper authorisation to store chemical agents in the facility. According to the data of the National Board of Revenue (NBR), Al Razi Chemical, located at Hathazari in Chattogram, exported around 9,635 tonnes of hydrogen peroxide to 12 countries in recent months using the BN Container Depot. Most of the consignments were shipped to Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Myanmar, Venezuela, and Singapore. Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the deadly fire has exposed a very fragile state system in Bangladesh.
“No security measures were taken there. I am terrified to think a country that has been said to be a modern one like Singapore, has no minimum security of human life,” he said.
Bangladesh has a history of industrial disasters. Past industrial tragedies have often been attributed to safety lapses.Last year, a fire engulfed a food and drink factory in Bangladesh, killing at least 52 people.In February 2019, a blaze ripped through a 400-year-old area cramped with apartments, shops and warehouses in the oldest part of Dhaka and killed at least 67 people.In 2012, about 117 workers died when they were trapped behind locked exits in a garment factory in Dhaka. The country’s worst industrial disaster occurred the following year, when the Rana Plaza garment factory outside Dhaka collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people.Another fire in Old Dhaka in a house illegally storing chemicals killed at least 123 people in 2010.