Fire rips through Bangladesh shopping complex, smoke hampers rescue efforts

Dhaka (Reuters) – A huge fire swept through a shopping complex containing nearly 1,500 shops in Bangladesh’s capital of Dhaka, officials said on Saturday as firefighters and soldiers struggled to put out the blaze with smoke hampering rescue efforts.

There were no casualties reported so far, but it was unknown how many people could have been trapped inside as the blaze erupted in the early hours of the morning, before most shops had opened.

It was the second such incident this month.

The army was called in to help as the flames spread rapidly through the cramped market, and there were some 28 fire units at the scene, fire service official Shahjahan Sikder said.

The cause of the fire was unknown, but lax regulations and poor enforcement have been blamed for industrial fires that have killed hundreds of people in Bangladesh in recent years.

A massive fire ripped through a crowded shopping complex in Dhaka on April 4, destroying some 5,000 stores. Several firefighters were injured during that incident.