Negligence rumored in Dhaka fire that left 49 dead, 450 hurt at Dutch-Bangladeshi depot
At least 49 people, including nine firefighters, were killed and some 450 others injured in explosions and a massive fire at the Dutch-Bangladeshi company BM Inland Container Depot in Chittagong, about 210 kilometers away from Dhaka. As firefighters continue to fight the blaze, allegations of negligence are circling as the cause of this tragedy, according to the Dhaka Tribune and AP News.
A source from the Ministry of Shipping told Dhaka Tribune that BM Depot did not properly keep a log of the two codes that identify what dangerous materials are in each container - The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) codes. "If these two codes were maintained properly by the authority in the compound, this inferno could have been avoided," the source said.
According to the local authorities, BM Inland Container Depot had some 4,000 containers on site when the fire and subsequent explosions broke out. About 1,000 containers had goods in them, including chemicals. Firefighters were unaware of the chemical storage at the depot, officials said, according to AP News.
According to firefighters, over a dozen containers had hydrogen peroxide inside them, which gave the fire plenty of fuel to spread after the first explosion. Because they didn't know where the hazardous substances were, many firefighters were close to containers that exploded in the blaze. At least 21 firefighters got hurt, including the nine who died.
"We learned about the hydrogen peroxide containers at the depot long after the fire started," Chittagong Fire Service Deputy Director Anisur Rahman told Dhaka Tribune. "No one from the organization informed the rescuers about the highly inflammable and explosive chemical."
The State Minister for Shipping, Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, said that the security code was maintained in the depot. "We will investigate if there was any negligence on the part of the depot authorities."
The military deployed explosive experts to help the firefighters. On Monday, some 40 hours after the first explosion, the fire department had the fire under control and was working on extinguishing it.