Bangladesh security tightened following Pilkhana massacre and Bashundhara City fire

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Bangladesh security tightened following Pilkhana massacre and Bashundhara City fire

By | September 18, 2019

Friday, March 20, 2009

Following the Pilkhana massacre which occurred February 25 and 26 leaving 74 dead and the inferno at the Bashundhara City shopping mall complex March 13 leaving seven dead, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said security measures are being tightened countrywide across Bangladesh.

Fire drills will be enacted at all key-point installations (KPI). Fire fighting systems will be examined by the fire brigade and the public works department (PWD) to ensure functionality. Security measures will be enhanced supplementing areas under private security such as at the Bashundhara City Complex.

The Fire Service and Civil Defence Department requires modernization and needs new equipment to fight fires past the sixth floor of buildings. The Fire Brigade says it needs turntable ladders, snorkels, foam-tenders, lighting units, emergency tenders, fireproof uniforms, and rescue ropes for fire fighting and rescue operations. Transportation to fires is also an issue due to narrow roads, low electrical wires and congestion.

The Bangladesh National Building Code requires fire fighting equipment installed in buildings over seven floors. This code is to be monitored by authorities to ensure compliance with the new guidelines and to make sure buildings are being maintained.

The Bashundhara City Complex opened Monday for shoppers two days after Friday’s blaze. A probe is underway to determine the cause of the fire and to assess structural damage.

Loss of life was minimized as the blaze broke out on a Friday, the beginning of the weekend in Bangladesh, so offices in the upper floors were empty. The lower eight floors are used for shopping and the upper floors are all Bashundhara Group offices.

The mall is valued at Tk 7.0 billion (US$100 million). It is not known if the complex is covered by fire insurance.

It is estimated that it will take over two years to rebuild the area damaged by flames which were burned down to a skeleton. Bashundhara City’s technical advisor, Latifur Rahman, estimated damages at Tk 2.0 billion (US$29m).

Only one television cameraman has been allowed in to film the burnt area. None of the 2,500 shops, cinemas or cafes were burnt by the inferno. The seventh and eighth floors still experience smoke damage, and there was water damage to merchandise.

A three member committee is currently investigating the cause of the fire which will consist of Iqbal Khan Chowdhury, joint secretary of the ministry, representatives of the police, IGP Noor Muhammad, and fire brigade, Director General Abu Nayeem Md Shahidullah. The committee is required to report within the week with their findings. The forensics department is also sifting through the burnt remains.

The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industries has also formed a committee which has begun interviewing witnesses and recording their testimony alongside the government committee.

It has been discovered that 150 closed circuit cameras were not being used when the fire started. Another mystery is why the mall fire fighting system has been found unused.

Why the fire burnt so fiercely is a matter to think….These matters seem to be mysterious

“In the shopping mall there is an ultra-technology elevator which runs even without electricity but we have found that locked,” Iqbal Khan Chowdhury, joint secretary (Police) of the home ministry, said. “Why the fire burnt so fiercely is a matter to think. We have to see if there was any incendiary substance there. These matters seem to be mysterious.”

Mall management has been asked to submit substances and items which would have been in the upper floors when the fire started. The fire erupted on the 17th floor and spread quickly to the two floors above and engulfed the three floors below. The aerial ladders belonging to the Fire Service and Civil Defence reached as high as the 13th floor of the 21-storey building.

Videos have been sent to the United States (US) for examination to assist in determining the cause of the fire and to help in the damage assessment. Experts from the US are expected to arrive soon.

Firefighters were brought to the rooftop of the 20-storey tower by helicopter. The only fatality in this operation was Baki Billa, a firefighter of Bashundhara City firefighting department, who fell when climbing down a rope from a helicopter to the roof of the building. Three other firefighters made the transition safely. At this same time, the chief security officer was safely rescued by the Bangladesh Air Force helicopter, a Bell 212. Six security officers of the complex also lost their lives.

London serial murder accused Stephen Port makes first court appearance

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London serial murder accused Stephen Port makes first court appearance

By | September 7, 2019

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A London man charged on Sunday with drugging and murdering four men made his first court appearance yesterday. Stephen Port, 40, was remanded to appear before a higher court tomorrow.

Port faces four counts of murder and four counts of “administering a poison with intent to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm”. He is alleged to have administered overdoses of recreational drug GHB. He allegedly murdered the men at his home before dumping the bodies, after finding victims online using gay dating services.

Three of the deaths were last year. Anthony Patrick Walgate, 23, was found dead on June 19, 2014 in Cooke Street. Port lives in Cooke Street. The other three alleged victims were found in the vicinity of St Margaret’s Church on North Street. Gabriel Kovari, 22, was discovered dead on August 28. Daniel Whitworth, 21, was found dead the following month on September 20. Fourth alleged victim Jack Taylor, 25, was found a year later on September 14.

Whitworth and Kovari were known to each other, according to testimony at inquest. The Metropolitan Police has referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission concerning what police called “potential vulnerabilities in [our response] to the four deaths.” Police did not initially link the deaths.

Special needs teacher Port, who was guarded by three officers in the dock, spoke in court to confirm his identity. He did not indicate if he will deny the offences. He was arrested following a police appeal to trace a man seen with Taylor shortly before his death.

Police at the time released security footage of Taylor’s movements, with an officer telling the press “the man captured on CCTV may well be the last person to talk to Jack.” The four deaths were finally linked and passed to the Metropolitan Police’s serious crime investigators on Wednesday last week.

The Magistrates’ Court ordered Taylor to appear at the Old Bailey, a famed London courthouse, tomorrow. He spent the hearing holding one arm, and repeatedly looking at the floor, whilst clad in a grey tracksuit given to him by the authorities holding him.

Freak wave rocks luxury liner–4 hurt

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Freak wave rocks luxury liner–4 hurt

By | September 3, 2019

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Norwegian Dawn, a 965-foot-long luxury vessel, was struck by “a freak wave that caused two windows to break in two different cabins,” the owners, Norwegian Cruise Line, said in a statement. It changed course, docking in Charleston late Saturday afternoon instead of completing its planned travel to New York.

The wave, estimated at 7-stories-high, flooded 62 cabins and injured 4 passengers with cuts and bruises. Company spokeswoman Susan Robison said the wave reached to deck 10.

The hull was damaged but the vessel was not in any trouble, according to the Coast Guard, and the safety of the ship “was in no way compromised by this incident.” Passengers were told to don their flotation jackets anyway.

The ship left New York last Sunday on a week-long round-trip cruise to and from the Bahamas.