Fire fighting vans positioned in front of Shahjalal International Airport to douse the fire that broke out yesterday at one of its terminal buildings. Ten units of fire fighters put out the blaze after two hours. Inset: Passengers in distress due to fire
A mysterious fire broke out at the main building of Hazrat Shahjalal Interna-tional Airport in the city yesterday noon causing disruption of normal activities of the airport. This incident has created fear over avoiding the ban imposed by UK and European Union (EU) of operating cargo services from Bangladesh. The European Union had put Bangladesh on the list of high-risk countries in terms of operating cargo services by air and sea to the EU countries.
Last year, Australia, the UK and Germany termed Bangladesh a high-risk country and imposed a ban on direct cargo flights citing poor security at Hazrat Shahjalal Interna-tional Airport. Six flights of different international routes were delayed due to disconnection of power supply and suspension of the departure activities causing immense sufferings to the outbound people, especially Hajj pilgrims. But, no casualty was reported in the incident, said Nure Azam Miah, OC of Airport police station.
Polash Chandra Madok, Duty Officer of Fire Service and Civil Defense's Headquarters, said, "The fire originated at the 'Air India Office' on the 2nd floor of the main building at around 1.37pm. Being informed, 10 units of the Fire Service reached the spot and started dousing the fire. They also disconnected all the power supply to avert high risk. After a fanatic effort for around two hours, the life saving forces became able to extinguish the fire."
Tariq Ahmed, Superintendent of Police (SP), Armed Police Battalion (APBN) at the Airport, said, "Some attendants suddenly found huge smoke bringing out from the 2nd floor and started hue and cry. The smoke rapidly spread to surrounding areas. Consequently, people were moved away from the main terminal suspending departures. But the origination of fire could not be known immediately, though someone claimed that the fire broke out from cigarette. After extinguishing the fire, Fire Service workers started searching the spot, but they did not find any casualty."
Rasheda Sultana, Chief Security Officer of the Airport, said, "Outbound passengers, especially Hajj pilgrims were brought out from the terminal and no passenger was allowed to enter the spot at that time for safety. Panic spread among the travelers, especially foreigners and elderly Hajj pilgrims for sudden fire and spreading out huge smoke around the terminal. But the amount of damage could not be ascertained immediately."
She further said, "Power supply was restored soon after the fire extinguished and departure started. The arrival was usual." Rejaul Karim, Public Relations Officer of Civil Aviation Authority, said, "The fire halted all the activities of the main airport in the country and created panic among the travelers during the Hajj season. Consequently, there was an apprehension of schedule collapse."
"Where the fire broke out on the 2nd floor of the main building, there are offices of a few airlines including Air India and Saudia," Tazul Islam, an official of Customer Service at Air India, said adding that their entire office including necessary papers and money was gutted. A booth of Qatar Airline was also damaged.
Shafiqul Islam, Station Officer of Uttara Fire Brigade, said, "We could not locate the origin of fire. It will be possible after investigation. A three-member probe body has already been formed to investigate the matter and it was asked to submit the report by next seven days."
Terming the incident an artificial drama, many Hajj pilgrims said, "Such 'fire drama' was played at the country's largest airport in a planned way to hide the recent chaotic situation over Hajj flights." To protect different Hajj agencies and hide their irregularities, the drama was staged by the authorities concerned, they alleged. When this correspondent tried to contact with Kazi Iqbal Karim, Director of the Airport, to ascertain the matter, he did not respond.
Leave Your Comments