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21 dead in Bangladesh slum fire

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AFP
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At least 21 people including 10 children were killed early on Tuesday when a fire swept through a slum in Bangladesh's southeastern port city of Chittagong, police said.

The blaze broke out at a textile shop near the slum's main gate in the city's Bakalia district as most of the shanty's inhabitants slept.

"We found the charred dead bodies of 19 people including 10 children huddled in a room near a wall at the back end of the slum. At least 10 people were injured," officer Kai Kislu said.

Two more dead bodies were found in another part of the slum, taking the death toll to 21, local police chief Kanmrul Islam added.

"It raced through the main gates of the slum and engulfed the shanties within minutes. Apparently the victims ran to the back-end of the slum but could not escape the fire because the wall was high," Kislu added.

Firefighters worked for two hours to bring the flames under control.

Abdul Momin, a rickshaw puller, escaped the blaze but lost his wife and five children.

"I, my wife and our five children ran out into the narrow alley hearing the cries of 'fire, fire'. I was fortunate to climb the wall," a distraught Momin told reporters from his hospital bed, adding that in the chaos he had been unable to help save his family.

Another resident said the fire blocked the only exit to the shanty.

"I woke up in the middle of the night. I tried to run outside of my one-room shanty. But the fire was all over the narrow entrance of the slum. Some ran to the back-end and died," said maid Ashia Khatoon.

Police said some 200 people lived in the slum. Around 100 people were rescued by firefighters, while the others escaped on their own.

Last year, in the country's worst ever industrial fire, at least 60 people were killed after fire broke out at a textile factory in Chittagong