Thousands rendered homeless after Bangladesh fire

The fire spread through a slum in Dhaka

Up to 50,000 people are thought to have been rendered homeless after a massive fire swept through a slum in the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka, on Friday.

At least 1,200 tin shacks were destroyed in the Chalantika slum, officials said. Many homes had plastic roofs, which helped the flames to spread. No deaths have been reported, although several people were injured.

The number of people made homeless is unclear, with media reports ranging from 3,000 people to 50,000.

Firefighters took more than six hours to put out the flames.

“I could not salvage a single thing. I don’t know what will I do,” 58-year-old Abdul Hamid, who ran a tea stall inside the slum said.

Many residents – largely low-income garment factory workers – were not in the slum as they had left their homes to celebrate the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday with their families. “Otherwise, the damage would have been bigger,” local police chief Golam Rabbani said.

The government says relief will be provided for the many thousands who are now without shelter.

Around 10,000 people took refuge in crammed camps at nearby schools over the weekend. “We are providing them with food, water, mobile toilets, and electricity supply,” municipal official Shafiul Azam said, adding that authorities were trying to find permanent accommodation.

Some families have erected tarpaulins to shelter them from bouts of rain during the monsoon season, but the wet conditions have turned the fields muddy.

Experts say fires are frequent in Dhaka due to lax safety measures. At least 100 people have been killed so far this year in building fires across the densely populated metropolitan city.

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