Our team was present to capture images of the aftermath of a huge explosion and depot fire in Sonaichhari, Bangladesh.
On the evening of June 4th, part of a BM container depot in Sonaichhari, Bangladesh, caught fire at around 21:00 local time. Hundreds of firefighters, police and volunteers arrived at the depot to help tackle the blaze. By 23:45, the fire had spread to some nearby shipping containers, believed to be filled with chemicals, triggering a huge explosion which is said to have killed at least 49 people, including 5 firefighters, and injured hundreds more.
Many of those injured in the blast are said to be in critical condition and the final death toll is expected to continue rising for some time with many of the individuals caught up in the incident still missing. Local hospitals have been overwhelmed, with several patients needing to be airlifted to the capital, Dhaka, for treatment. The explosion, which shattered the windows of buildings near the depot and spread debris as far as 500m, was reportedly audible 30-40km from the site.
The depot, located in Sitakunda Municipality near the nation’s second city and main sea port, Chattogram, was one of many in an area that functions as a key transit point for Bangladesh’s exports, particularly the country’s garment industry. A regional government official claimed that, at the time of the blast, the depot contained millions of dollars of garments waiting for export to retailers around the globe.
Here is how our team in the newsroom validated the images we received of the aftermath of this devastating blaze.