Thousands of shoppers rushed out of a crowded high-rise shopping complex in Bangladesh’s capital city on Friday when a fire broke out in the building’s top floors, a police official said.
At least one person died, and 20 others are being treated at a nearby hospital for injuries sustained in the fire and the rush to leave the building, a Shamarita hospital official said. Rescue teams are searching for shoppers who may be trapped inside the nearly 20-story-high Bashundhara City shopping complex in Dhaka, police commissioner Mehabubor Rahman told CNN. He said it has been difficult to determine how many people are still inside, and the extent of casualties. “There is no scope of getting information from the inside so far,” Rahman said, speaking by phone from Dhaka. Many people visit the mall on Friday, which is a day off in Bangladesh. Watch footage of fire » An estimated 10,000 people fled the building when the fire began at about 1:45 p.m. local time (3:45 a.m. ET), Rahman said. Two people have been evacuated by helicopter, including one who was injured, Rahman said. Flames and plumes of smoke emanated from the building’s upper levels, where the food court is located. Some firefighting units initially had trouble reaching the blaze because their ladders did not go past the 13th floor, according to a local newspaper, The Daily Star. iReport.com: Fire seen from apartment rooftop
A helicopter may be brought in to pour water on the fire, the newspaper reported, citing fire service sources. More than 25,000 people visit the shopping complex every day, according to developers. It opened five years ago and developers say it is the largest shopping mall in South Asia and the 12th largest in the world.