The death toll from the deadly fire at BM Container Depot at Sitakunda in Chattogram rose to 49, said fire service officials on Sunday.

"The death toll from the fire climbed to 49 and there were nine fire service members among the deceased," said Anisur Rahman, deputy director of Fire Service and Civil Defense, while briefing reporters at Chattogram Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) over the brutal blaze.

Around 17 deceased were identified so far and, of them, the names of 15 people have been found.

They are, Mominul Haque, Mohiuddin, Habibur Rahman, Rabiul Alam, Tofail Islam, Faruk Jamaddar, Afzal Hossain, Md. Sumon, Md. Ibrahim, Harun Ur Rashid, Md. Nayan, Shahadat Hossain, Shakil Tarafdar, Shahadat Ullah Jamadar and fire service employee Moniruzzaman.

Besides, over 200 people suffered injuries.

Around 130 people are undergoing treatment at the burn unit of CMCH, said Anisur.

Shahjahan Shikdar, deputy assistant director of Fire Service and Civil Defense headquarters (media), said 15 firefighters are undergoing treatment at Chattogram Combined Military Hospital (CMH).

Seven seriously injured people, including two firemen, were brought to Dhaka by a Bangladesh Army helicopter around 6 pm today, according to Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Directorate.

A total of 14 injured, including two firefighters and a policeman, have been admitted to the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery.

Twelve firemen still remained missing, he added.

About 250 members of the Bangladesh Army are working to bring the blaze under control even after 22 hours in the BM container depot at Sitakunda. Army members are also working to contain the spread of chemical in the area.

In this regard, Fire Service deputy director Anisur said the fire was almost under control. But suddenly 6-7 containers exploded and the fire spread again.

"There is a water crisis in the depot area. Water was brought from a pond there, which has dried up," said Anisur.

The fire is not being extinguished due to chemicals in the container, he added.

Chattogram Fire Service and Civil Defence Assistant Director Faruk Hossain Shikdar said a large explosion rocked the area around 9:45 pm on Saturday night.

"The explosion was heard within a radius of 4km from the spot," Faruk added.

The fire broke out inside the loading point of the depot and tore through the complex that also contained chemical containers.

The fire spread fast and got worse because of the chemical containers, he said, adding that lack of water made their fight to contain the blaze difficult, he said.

Sixteen firefighting units were dispatched immediately to fight the flames. Firefighters from Cumilla, Fatikchhari, Laxmipur, Bandarban and Feni also joined them.

A total of 15-20 explosions occurred at the depot following the fire, said Faruk.

Twenty-one firefighters and 15 policemen sustained injuries. Of them, 19 are undergoing treatment at the ICU of CMCH, he added.

Already, a 20-member special HAZMAT (hazardous material) team left for Chattogram from Dhaka to assist the fire service men working at the depot.

Director General of Fire Service and Civil Defense, Main Uddin, who visited the spot on Sunday morning, said "It has become difficult to extinguish the fire due to the existence of hydrogen peroxide. Already two teams of Rab and army are already there to assist the fire service men."

President of the association of inland container depot owners Nurul Qayum Khan said there was a container of hydrogen peroxide at the depot for shipment and that might be the reason behind the big blast and the fire.

Chattogram Civil Surgeon Ilias Chowdhury has made a public appeal for blood donation at the CMCH for the treatment of the injured.

Doctors from nearby government and private hospitals have been requested to report to CMCH to deal with the situation. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society volunteers are working with the hospital authorities to collect blood from donors.

"It is not yet clear what caused the fire. But I think it started from a container. Arrangements are being made to ensure that the injured get the best treatment; we will bear all costs," BM Container Depot Director Mujibur Rahman told UNB.

"Those who have sustained injuries will get maximum compensation. Also, we will take responsibilities for all the victims' families," he added.

BM Container Depot, a Dutch-Bangladesh joint venture, was set up as an inland container depot (ICD) and it is operating since May, 2011. It is one of 19 such ICDs located in Chattogram.

The chairman of the depot is Dutch businessman Bert Pronk, who has other investments too in Bangladesh, while the managing director is Mostafizur Rahman of the Smart Group of Industries.

CMCH situation

The relatives of the injured people and volunteers of Red Crescent Society at Chittagong Medical College and Hospital said they had to run around to get blood for the victims.

Brig General Shamim Ahsan, director of Chattogram Medical College Hospital, said the physicians of the hospital are working relentlessly to provide medical services.

Meanwhile, President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday expressed deep shock and sorrow at the loss of lives in the massive fire.

They also prayed for the eternal salvation of the departed soul and expressed sympathy to the bereaved family members.

Besides, a 250-member team of Bangladesh Army joined the rescue operation at the BM Container Depot on Sunday.

The Disaster Management and Relief Ministry announced to allocate Tk one crore for the victims.

Besides, the ministry also allocated 1000 packets of dry foods for them.

State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian announced Tk 2 lakh each as compensation for the families of the deceased workers and Tk 50,000 for the injured victims.

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