The fire that swept through a densely populated area of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, is the worst to have hit the country since it became independent in 1971. At least 120 people have been killed in the ancient buildings and narrow alleys of the Kayettuli district.
It is believed that an electrical transformer exploded after heavy rain, and that the fire was then fuelled by chemicals stored in illicit improvised factories in the area. Flames were said to have leapt six storeys high.
The authorities say that many buildings did not have proper fire escapes, that fire engines could not get down the narrow streets and that there were no hydrants for firemen to get water to fight the flames. Some victims were taken to hospital in rickshaws by local people.
Only on Tuesday, a five storey building collapsed in Dhaka, killing at least 25 people as it crashed down on slums below. The structure had been built on swampy ground, and police say it had then been modified without approval from the authorities.