Nation this week
At least 15 people were killed in a massive fire that tore through a Rohingya refugee camp in Ukhiya, Cox's Bazar. The fire ignited from camp 8E and it soon spread to Camp 8W, 9 and 10 leaving over 17,000 infrastructures including houses, community centres, schools and camp management offices fully or partly affected. Given the dry season and frequent wind flow, the fire spread rapidly and engulfed its surrounding areas. Firefighters finally managed to douse the fire after about 7 hours of trying.
Refugee aid groups estimate that between 40,500 and 50,000 people have been affected by the fire. Refugees International quoted witnesses as saying many people, including children, were trapped by the barbed wire fencing around the camp in Cox's Bazar. Many are seeking shelter in nearby camps, friends or families' shelters and learning centres, according to the World Food Programme, which also said some of its food centres were burnt to the ground.
With the country firmly in the grip of the second wave of Covid-19, the Education Ministry announced that in-person classes at secondary schools and colleges across the country would no longer be resuming on March 30, as announced earlier. The new date slated for the reopening, provided the situation around the Coronavirus outbreak allows it, is May 23 - after Eid-ul-Fitr. The ministry made the decision after consultation with the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, said a press release.
"The closure of primary, secondary and higher secondary-level institutions is likely to be extended till the Eid holidays in coordination with the closure of universities," Education Minister Dipu Moni told reporters earlier, following a discussion organised to mark the Genocide Day at Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital. The government on March 17 last year closed all educational institutions, aiming to contain the spread of coronavirus. The closure led to cancellation of exams and left academic calendars in disarray.
At least 75 people, including students, were injured in separate clashes involving police, Bangladesh Chhatra League activists and protesters on two separate days in Motijheel and Dhaka University areas ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the country to join Bangladesh's 50th anniversary celebrations, and the Mujib Centennial. The Indian premier will also use the opportunity to score some points with the influential Matua community of West Bengal with an eye on assembly elections there.
On Tuesday, a progressive student alliance brought out a procession which was heading towards Shahbagh intersection. When the protesters reached TSC area, hundreds of Chhatra League activists attacked them. At least 20-25 of them were injured and 15 were admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. On Thursday, over 500 protesters took part in a procession led by former Ducsu VP Nurul Haque Nur. When it reached near Shapla Chattar in Motijheel, police obstructed them and the clash ensued, witnesses said. Hours after the incident, BCL men swooped on protesters of the leftist students' alliance when they brought out a torch-procession from TSC area.
The alignment of the proposed high-speed train between Dhaka and Chittagong is likely to be changed. As per an initial plan, the 227.3km line was supposed to have six stations including two in Chattogram, Pahartoli and the existing station at the port city. As per the new plan for the $11 billion project, the route would have five stations, with a single station centring Chattogram set up near Pahartoli station.
This decision was made at a meeting attended by Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan and other top officials of the ministry and Bangladesh Railways after project consultants placed several options for them to choose from. Once finished, the journey from the capital to the Port City will be slashed to just 73 minutes, with an uninterrupted journey taking only 55 minutes.
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