At a storage warehouse outside Chittagong, Bangladesh, a fire and a massive explosion killed at least 49 people and wounded hundreds more.
When a number of cargo containers burst at the site in Sitakunda, hundreds of people had gathered to put out the fire.
Chemicals may have been kept in some of the containers.
In Bangladesh, industrial fires are widespread, and they are often blamed on lax safety laws.
Many of those wounded are thought to be in serious condition, and the death toll is anticipated to grow.
Hospitals in the region are overburdened, with long lines of patients waiting for treatment in the halls. Blood donations are being sought, and some of the wounded have been evacuated to Dhaka, the capital.
On Saturday, at about 21:00 local time (15:00 GMT), a fire broke out, and hundreds of firemen, police officers, and volunteers rushed to the site.
A massive explosion shook the scene as they attempted to put out the fire, engulfing several of the rescuers in flames and hurling debris and people into the air.
“I was thrown about 10 meters from where I was standing by the explosion. My hands and legs have been scorched “Tofael Ahmed, a truck driver, said to the AFP news agency.
On Sunday morning, volunteers proceeded to retrieve victims from the smoldering ruins, some wearing just sandals on their feet.
Images from the aftermath revealed twisted metal shipping containers and a warehouse’s ceiling that had fallen. There was a terrible odor in the air, according to a local journalist.
At least five firemen were killed and numerous more were wounded in the incident. Many persons, including journalists who were covering the fire before the explosion, are still missing.
The explosion was so powerful that it could be heard from many kilometers away and destroyed windows in surrounding buildings. A piece of debris had flown half a kilometer and landed in a local shopkeeper’s pond, according to reports. After the explosion, he recounted witnessing “fireballs dropping like rain.”
According to, many people in Bangladesh are comparing the explosion to the massive bomb that devastated Beirut in 2020. People have reported hearing the explosion from a distance of 30-40 kilometers (19-25 miles), according to him.
According to fire authorities, firefighters were still fighting to put out the fire on Sunday, with repeated explosions making it more difficult.
Sandbags have been put by the army to prevent toxins from pouring into the Indian Ocean.
Around 4,000 containers were kept in the Sitakunda depot, which is located 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of Chittagong, Bangladesh’s primary seaport and second-largest metropolis. Sitakunda serves as a point of transit for products passing through the port.Around 4,000 containers were stored at the facility.
According to a regional government official, the depot had millions of dollars worth of clothing that were ready to be sent to Western stores.
Bangladesh is a key clothing supplier to the West, and it has grown to become the world’s second-biggest exporter of clothes in the last decade.
However, safety laws are often disregarded or inadequately implemented, and numerous significant fires and other disasters at companies have occurred in recent years.
The Dhaka Tribune newspaper produced a list of 12 industrial catastrophes that have killed over 1,000 people since 2005, including fires, building collapses, and chemical spills.