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33 dangerous chemical cabinets, explosive power of Beirut!

Date: 2022-07-05

A container warehouse fire in Chittagong, southeastern Bangladesh, has raged for more than 40 hours, CCTV Finance reported.

More than 100 people, including 2 firefighters, are still missing in Chittagong, Bangladesh, the chittagong fire Department said Saturday. About 30 to 40 containers are still burning at the scene of the fire, hampering the search  and rescue mission. Fire authorities expect the death toll to rise further.

The warehouse mislabeled the chemical, causing firefighters to misjudge

According to a new BBC report, Bangladeshi officials say the operator of a container warehouse in the port mislabeled the chemical, causing firefighters to misjudge it  and causing it to explode, which fueled the deadly blaze.

Hundreds of firefighters, police  and volunteers rushed to the scene. As they put out the fire, a huge explosion shook the scene, a series of explosions in several containers of chemical products, many of the rescue workers were engulfed in flames, a large amount of debris  and people were thrown  into the air.

The explosion was so loud that it could be heard several kilometres away  and shattered Windows in nearby buildings. A local shopkeeper said he saw "fireballs raining down" after the explosion  and a piece of debris from the unidentified object flew half a kilometer  and landed in his backyard pond.

Mutsudi, assistant director of the local fire department, said firefighters entered the warehouse that night  and mistakenly poured water on containers of hydrogen peroxide, which then triggered a more violent explosion that caused "a container to fly more than 500 feet."

"The label on the hydrogen peroxide was wrong  and if we had known that, we would never have watered it!" he said.

By the evening of The 6th, the fire has not been completely controlled, part of the container is still burning.

Fire officer: The yard concealed the presence of highly flammable materials in the warehouse

It was also reported that the fire at the BM container yard was caused by the authorities' failure to comply with international safety standards  and the concealment of information about the storage of highly flammable materials in the warehouse.

It is understood that Al-Razi Chemical Complex Ltd, a manufacturer of the flammable Chemical hydrogen peroxide, has a warehouse at BM Container Yard  and stores dangerous goods destined for export to Cambodia without any safety measures.

About 850 tons of hydrogen peroxide produced at The Al-Razi Chemical Complex were shipped to warehouses between June  and 2, according to an investigation by The Business Standard, a Bangladeshi newspaper.

Bangladesh exported $13.9 million worth of hydrogen peroxide in 2020, according to the Economic Observatory (OEC). The country ranks 17th in global exports of chemicals, mainly used for bleaching  and disinfection in the textile, paper  and pulp industries.

Purnachandra Mutsuddi, a fire station official in Chittagong, said there was "no fire safety plan" at the depot  and there was no extinguishing equipment to put out the blaze before it spread quickly.

"The depot also did not tell us that there were containers containing these chemicals in the warehouse. The number of casualties would have been much lower."

33 containers of hydrogen peroxide  and 500 import containers damaged

Ruhul Amin Sikder, secretary general of The Inland Container Yards Association of Bangladesh (BICDA), said the explosion was on a scale comparable to that in 2020 when about 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded at the Port of Beirut in Lebanon.

Ruhul Amin Sikder said the association, including the BM container Depot, regularly handled the peroxide without incident.

"As far as we know, the BM depot followed the usual operating procedures in dealing with hydrogen peroxide, but it is incomprehensible that a fire  and explosion did occur."

Ruhul Amin Sikder added that there were about 1,300 fully loaded containers in the yard at the time of the fire, of which 800 were export containers, about 85% of which were ready-made garments. 500 imported cargo containers. Most of the containers were burned in the accident.

Agencies estimate the economic cost of the accident could exceed $110 million.

Khairul Alam Sujan, deputy chairman of the Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association, said containers containing dangerous chemicals were often stored near containers of clothing products destined for export.

Customs officials said there were more than 3,000 containers in the warehouse when the fire broke out. Thirty-three of the containers contained hydrogen peroxide  and the fire caused a huge explosion that spread quickly.

Bangladesh, a major garment supplier to the West, has boomed in the past decade  and has become the world's second largest garment exporter. Garment exports are one of Bangladesh's main foreign exchange earners. But local safety regulations are often ignored  or poorly enforced  and several factories have been hit by fires  and other safety incidents in recent years.

On June 5, the local Dhaka Tribune published a list of 12 major industrial disasters - including fires, building collapses  and chemical spills - that killed more than 1,000 people since 2005.