Fire kills nine, injures dozens in Chittagong, Bangladesh slum

Monday, February 18, 2019

A fire yesterday morning destroyed at least 200 makeshift homes in a slum in Chittagong, a port city in Bangladesh. Officials said it killed nine people and injured at least 50 more.

File photo from 2015 of a slum in Chittagong.
Image: Intakhab Alam Chowdhury.

Jasim Uddin, a spokesperson for the fire service, told the Associated Press four victims were from a single family. Following the fire's start it took around five hours to gain control of the blaze as it consumed bamboo and tarpaulin housing. The fire in Bhera Market broke out at around 3:30am. The fire service was reportedly investigating the possibility of an electrical fault triggering the accident.

Millions dwell in the nation's slums, and while there was no suggestion on Sunday of sabotage, local activists claimed fires have in the past been deliberately set to clear away slum buildings for redevelopment. One activist, Nur Khan Liton, on Sunday told Agence France-Presse arson has been used "as a weapon to evict poor slum dwellers and squatters from government or private property" by developers.

Yesterday morning also saw an earthquake of reported magnitude 4.9 in the city. No injuries were recorded; buildings in the city were shaken.