06/05/2010, 00.00
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Day of national mourning for the more than 120 deaths in Dhaka blaze

by William Gomes
On the orders of Sheikh Hasina, on June 6 flags will be lowered to half mast and special prayers will be recited in all places of worship for the fire on June 3, which has already caused over 120 deaths. But there are fears that could rise to 300.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina has called a day of national mourning June 6 in honour of the victims of the blaze that took place in Dhaka on the night of June 3.

The deputy press secretary to Prime Minister Hasina, Shakil Mahbubul Haque, told AsiaNews that the flags will be lowered to half mast and special prayers will be recited in mosques and other places of worship in the country. Sheikh Hasina, who was visiting the wounded at the burns unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital, ensures that the government will cover the costs of medical care.

Despite the words of the Prime Minister, many human rights organizations accused the government of failing to address this crisis.  Activist Dipali Barua, reveals that the wounded in hospitals are suffering for lack of medicines and care.

The death toll is already more than 120 people but it could rise again and exceed 300, as revealed to AsiaNews, by the Chief of the Fire Brigade Brig Gen. Abu Nayeem Mohammad Shahidullah, referring to the huge number of people who have suffered very serious burns.  He explains the dynamics of the fire: "At around 9 pm, the electrical transformer of Dhaka City Corporation went up in flames. These spread rapidly to several apartment complexes, coming into contact with highly flammable chemical and plastic materials in a series of small shops".  Above all contact with adhesives created a ball of fire that hit the surrounding buildings and streets, making the air un-breathable".  The fire enveloped eight apartment complexes and 20 shops in flames.

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