Dhaka fire: Criminal charges to be filed against building owner

Blaze at illegally extended high-rise in capital of Bangladesh kills at least 25, injures 70

Firefighters stand guard at the high-rise block where a fire killed at least 25. Photograph: Monirul Alam/EPA

Firefighters stand guard at the high-rise block where a fire killed at least 25. Photograph: Monirul Alam/EPA

 

Criminal charges are to be filed against the owner of a building in Dhaka where a fire killed at least 25 people and which had four illegally constructed upper floors , officials in Bangladesh said.

Minister for housing and public work SM Rezaul Karim also pledged to take action against officials in his ministry if they were guilty of wrongdoing associated with allowing the added floors or other violations.

Buildings being increased in size beyond approved design common in Bangladesh, where the government is seeking fast economic development and the private sector is expanding.

The blaze that burned for several hours on Thursday trapped people inside the building, some shouting for help from windows on upper floors and the roof.

By Friday morning, no smoke was visible at the FR Tower which is on a busy avenue in the Banani commercial district of Bangladesh’s capital.

Mostak Ahmed, a deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said the death toll rose to 25 with all but one identified.

Based on information provided by relatives, no one appeared to still be unaccounted for, he said. “Still we are checking, if someone comes to us we will verify,” he said.

The fire injured about 70 people, many of them being treated at Dhaka Medical College Hospital’s burn unit.

The fire was the latest in a country where crowding, flouted building regulations and safety norms have made deadly blazes common.

Last month, a fire in the oldest part of Dhaka, a 400-year-old area cramped with apartments, shops and warehouses, left at least 67 people dead.

In 2012, a fire at a garment factory killed at least 112 people trapped behind its locked gates. Less than six months later, another building containing garment factories collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people.

Another fire in a house illegally storing chemicals in Old Dhaka killed at least 123 people in 2010. – AP