Dhaka slum fire leaves thousands homeless

Caritas is assessing how it can help those affected by the blaze that gutted shanties made of bamboo and plastics
Dhaka slum fire leaves thousands homeless

A distraught victim sits near her former residence in fire-gutted Chalantika slum in Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Aug. 17. The Aug. 16 disaster left thousands of low-income residents homeless and penniless. (Photo by Piyas Biswas/ucanews.com)

A massive fire in a slum in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka has left thousands of people homeless.

The blaze broke out at Chalantika slum in Mirpur on the northern outskirts of Dhaka on Aug. 16.

About 10,000 shanties made of bamboo and plastics were gutted, leaving some 50,000 homeless reported local media.

At the time of the accident, most residents were away celebrating the Aug. 12 Islamic feast Eid-ul-Adha with relatives. No deaths were reported but several people were injured

The slum was home to poor and low-income people, mostly rickshaw pullers, garment workers, domestic helpers and laborers.

The fire’s origin is unknown and local authorities are investigating the incident.

Slum resident Muhammad Siddique, 50, said the fire destroyed everything his family owned. He was with his family — four sons, and a daughter with her baby girl — inside their home when the disaster started.

“The fire destroyed our food, clothes and all the belongings including some money,” said Siddique, who works as a security guard.

“Now we’re penniless and homeless,” he said, adding that he hopes to get some government support to survive.

A view of the remains of Chalantika slum in the Mirpur area of Dhaka. (Photo by Piyas Biswas/ucanews.com)


Minara Begum, 25, a mother of five boys, lived in the slum with her husband. The couple ran a grocery store not far from their shanty. Both the house and the shop were gutted in the fire.

“For years we have lived in this slum and never before has such a fire broken out. The fire might be due to arson — there has been political rivalry here about who controls the slum,” she said.

Atiqul Islam, mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation, promised that the government would relocate 10,000 victim families.

Catholic charity Caritas Dhaka has provided services to help 360 families in the slum and the agency is assessing how it can help those affected by the blaze.

“Our primary support will include food, clothes and rebuilding shelters,” Joyti Gomes, regional director of Caritas Dhaka, told ucanews.com.

Fire accidents are common in Bangladesh due to lax fire safety measures. In February, some 80 people were killed and about 50 injured in a fire that engulfed buildings and shops in Chawk Bazar, a busy and congested commercial district in Dhaka.

For more see this ucanews.com video report below. 


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