Firefighters arrive after a fire broke out at a container storage facility in Sitakunda, Chittagong, Bangladesh. AFP
At least 38 people died and hundreds were injured after a fire that sparked a huge chemical explosion and was still blazing on Sunday at a shipping container depot in Bangladesh, officials said.
The toll was expected to rise with some of the more than 300 people injured in a serious condition.
Volunteers, some with only flip-flops on their feet, brought bodies from the smouldering, wreckage-strewn facility, saying there were more inside.
The fire started late on Saturday at the huge depot in Sitakunda storing around 4,000 containers, many of them filled with garments destined for Western retailers, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the major southern port of Chittagong.
Then containers holding chemicals exploded, engulfing firefighters, journalists and others in an inferno, hurtling people and debris through the air, turning the night sky a blazing orange and rattling buildings kilometres away.
An injured victim is brought to a hospital at Sitakund, near the port city Chittagong, Bangladesh, on Sunday. Reuters
The death toll could rise as some of the injured are in critical condition, said Chittagong civil surgeon Mohammed Elias Hossain. The injured included firefighters and policemen, he said.
He urged all doctors in the district to help tackle the situation and called for emergency blood donations.
It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze. Fire service officials said they suspect it may have originated from a container of hydrogen peroxide and spread quickly to other containers.
In 2020, three people were killed after an oil tank exploded at a container depot in Chittagong's Patenga area.