Dhaka (PTI): A massive fire that ripped through a seven-storey commercial building in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka overnight has killed at least 44 people and injured 22 others, the health minister said on Friday.

The fire on Thursday night that engulfed the Green Cozy Cottage building in the capital's Baily Road area housed several restaurants and shops.

The fire broke out around 9:50 pm on Thursday at a popular restaurant named "Kacchi Bhai" on the building's first floor and quickly spread to the upper floors that had more restaurants and a garment shop, according to fire service officials.

Health Minister Samanta Lal Sen said around 2 am that 33 bodies were brought to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) and 10 others to the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery. Another victim died at the Police Hospital.

The condition of those injured is "critical", he told reporters at a briefing.

Fire officials said 75 people, including 42 in unconscious state, were taken out of the seven-storey building. Thirteen fire service units were mobilised, the officials said.

The minister, a burn wound specialist, said 22 people are being treated at both health facilities and their condition is "critical".

"The respiratory system of those who have survived so far has been seriously damaged," Sen told reporters at the DMCH.

Doctors said some of the bodies were burned beyond recognition and feared that the death toll could rise.

Witnesses and officials said to escape the fire, people rushed to the upper floors. Many were rescued by firefighters using ladders, they added.

IGP Chowdhury Abdullah Al Mamun in a press briefing said that 44 people died and 75 had been rescued. Some of the rescued individuals received first aid treatment before returning home safely.

He also said the dead victims included the daughter of a police officer.

Fire Service DG Moin said the 42 unconscious included 21 women and four children.

"It was a dangerous building with gas cylinders on every floor, even on the staircases," he said.

He believes the fire originated from a gas leak or stove. The building has only one exit - the staircases, according to him.

Most of the people died as they jumped off the building or from burns or suffocation, said firefighters who brought the fire under control around 12.30 am.
Smoke was still brewing from the building at that time.

The first death was reported around 1 am when the firefighters took the bodies one by one to a freezing truck waiting outside the building, local media reported.

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Madikeri: The Kodagu district administration has implemented a nighttime ban on vehicular movement along the NH 275 section of Sampaje Ghat, connecting Sampaje to Madikeri, amid fears of potential landslides. The restriction, effective from Thursday, prohibits travel between 8 PM and 6 AM.

This precautionary measure was enacted following a report from the Assistant Executive Engineer of the National Highways Authority of India, Madikeri Sub-Division, highlighting the risk of the hillside near Kartoji on the highway collapsing due to persistent heavy rain. As a result, the Kodagu Deputy Commissioner Venkat Raja issued the order to restrict traffic.

The movement restriction applies to all vehicles except those used by officers and personnel involved in emergency services and natural calamity-related tasks.

ALSO READ: Heavy rains lead to closure of Shirady Ghat section for vehicular movement on NH-75

The Sampaje Ghat section is a vital route for travelers heading to Madikeri, Mysuru, Bengaluru, and Ooty, and it also serves as an alternative path when the Shirady Ghat is closed due to landslides. With the recent landslide near Maranahalli, traffic on the Shirady Ghat section is also banned, adding to the urgency of the situation.

Deputy Commissioner Venkat Raja has advised travelers heading to Mysuru and Bengaluru via Madikeri to use the Charmadi Ghat-Kottigehara route as an alternative.

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