Bangladesh police investigating deadly container depot fire

Police in Bangladesh have opened an investigation into eight officials from a shipping container depot after a blaze there killed at least 44 people, including 10 firefighters, and injured around 200 others, officials said.

Firefighters put out the blaze at the depot in Sitakunda, 40km from the south-eastern port city of Chittagong four days after it began late on Saturday June 4th, triggering a series of explosions.

The investigation was opened into officials who were directly involved operating the depot on suspicion of negligence and mismanagement, senior police official Ashraful Karim said. No one has been arrested. The owners are not under police investigation.

Authorities have not determined the cause of the disaster but they suspect a container of hydrogen peroxide was the source for a massive blast. That was followed by multiple other explosions.

Fire service officials said they had not been informed that chemicals had been stored at the depot.

A senior fire service official, Monir Hossain, said fire safety measures had not been implemented, with only a handful of extinguishers in a depot storing dozens of containers full of everything from clothes to chemicals.

Troops were trying to prevent chemicals spreading into canals and along the Bay of Bengal coastline, officials said.