Grieving families await bodies after Bangladesh fire

DHAKA  -  Anguished families kept vigil outside the morgue of Bangladesh’s largest hospital on Friday, waiting for the bodies of loved ones to be identified after a fire they say should never have happened.

At least 46 people were killed in Thursday night’s blaze in an upscale neighbourhood of the capital Dhaka, which broke out in a popular biryani restaurant and quickly engulfed a seven-floor commercial building.

Most of those who perished suffo­cated in the smoke, while the bodies of others were burned beyond recog­nition in the resulting inferno.

Among the dead was young univer­sity student Minhaj Khan, whose fail­ure to escape the fire was witnessed by a friend with him at the restau­rant, and confirmed to AFP by his older cousin at the hospital.

Khan’s mother had travelled to the hospital insisting his companion was mistaken, angrily sending away doc­tors requesting a DNA swab to check against bodies brought to the morgue. “I won’t listen to anyone. I don’t be­lieve any of you. I only want my son. Nothing else,” she told AFP, declining to give her name. “He promised to take me to Mecca for the pilgrimage. How can I go to Mecca without him?” It took fire crews two hours to bring the blaze under control, with mem­bers of the public stepping in to carry hoses and help guide those escaping from the building to safety.

Before they arrived, many inside had rushed upstairs to the rooftop to escape the quickly spreading inferno.

Kazi Taslim Uddin said his 20-year-old son was among the dozens being treated in hospital for injuries after being forced to clamber down the side of the building. “He tried to go to the ground floor but failed as people were rushing up the opposite way,” he told AFP.

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