Death toll from Bangladesh capital fire rises to 69

The fire erupted at Chawkbazar in the old part of Dhaka

A almost identical incident of fire in 2010 in an old Dhaka building, which was also used as a chemical warehouse, killed more than 120 people in one of the worst fire tragedies in Bangladesh.

Fire fighters fought for more than five hours to bring it under control, although it was still burning early on Thursday.

Victims included people outside the buildings, some guests at a restaurant and members of a bridal party, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Ibrahim Khan told AFP. "This is not like any other fire", he said, adding that the inferno had been made more devastating by the "highly combustible" chemicals.

The death toll from the latest fire could rise as the condition of some of the injured people is critical, said Samanta Lal Sen, head of a burn unit at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

"So far, 56 bodies have been recovered".

The centuries-old Chawkbazar district has very narrow streets and residential buildings only inches apart.

But the most serious threat come from the fact that residential buildings are used for commercial purposes, with ground floors serving as chemical and gas cylinder warehouses. Hundreds of people have been killed in recent years.

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The blaze broke out Wednesday, February 20, in the Chawkbazar area, a district in old Dhaka with sprawling narrow streets and densely packed buildings. One of the buildings was a warehouse for a perfume company, and the plastics and chemicals stored there quickly ignited.

Rahman said firefighters struggled to find enough water to douse the flames and had to take it from a nearby mosque.

In 2012, a fire in a garments factory on the outskirts of Dhaka killed as many as 117 people and injured more than 200 in the country's worst industrial blaze.

Sohag Hossain, one of the injured, told the Daily Star that he and two friends were working at a plastic factory in one of the buildings at the time of the fire.

Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokon and local MP Haji Md Salim paid a visit to the market place and monitored the situation after receiving information from the fire officials.

Chawkbazar is one of Dhaka's largest trading hubs and residents said most of the buildings in the area were used to store goods and chemicals.