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Seven killed in Bangladesh mall blaze

world Updated: Mar 14, 2009 10:05 IST

Seven people were killed on Friday afternoon when a massive fire engulfed a high-rise shopping complex in the Bangladeshi capital, officials said.

The fire broke out at about 1.30 pm on the 17th floor of the 19-storey Bashundhara City complex that houses a shopping mall and corporate offices in Dhaka.

The blaze first engulfed the top three floors of the building and then spread downward to the 12th floor. Seven people were killed and over a dozen injured in the incident.

A firefighter, who sustained severe burn injuries while trying to put out the blaze and was admitted to a hospital, has died, medics said.

Six bodies were retrieved from the complex after the fire was extinguished, a senior officer of Bangladesh's fire service and civil defence said.

Hospital officials said at least 18 people were injured, two of them critically, in the incident.

An advisor of the Bashundhara Group, which owns the high-rise building, said at least one billion taka (about $14 million) worth of property has been lost in the blaze. He said the top four floors of the building were completely destroyed in the fire.

The fire was put out after hours of frantic efforts by firefighters who lacked proper equipments, said Abu Nayeem Shahidullah, director general of fire service and civil defence.

He said there was only one 90-meter-high ladder avaliable for the operation, whereas at least four such ladders were needed.

Bangladesh's Prime minister Sheikh Hasina had asked the security agencies, including the armed forces and emergency services, to join in the rescue operation.

One person who was trapped on the top floor of the building was evacuated by a rescue helicopter.

The first eight floors of the building serve as a shopping mall, with some 2,500 shops, while the upper floors of the complex houses various officies. The building also has a cinema hall, besides other recreational facilities.

Meanwhile, an inquiry committee has been set up by the government to probe into the incident.