Fire sweeps through Bangladesh slum, killing nine

A firefighter working to extinguish a fire in a slum in Chittagong, Bangladesh, on Feb 17, 2019.
A firefighter working to extinguish a fire in a slum in Chittagong, Bangladesh, on Feb 17, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

CHITTAGONG, BANGLADESH (AFP) - A fire tore through a slum in southern Bangladesh on Sunday (Feb 17) killing at least nine people and destroying hundreds of shanty homes, police said.

The blaze broke out in the port city of Chittagong at about 3.30am and raced through the district of bamboo, tin and tarpaulin homes, said local police chief Pranab Chowdhury.

"At least 470 shanties were destroyed by the fire. So far, nine people have died. They included four members of a family," fire brigade official Hefazatul Islam told AFP.

Fires regularly break out in Bangladesh's slums, where millions live in squalid living conditions.

Rights groups have alleged in the past that some shanty town blazes were deliberate acts of sabotage by developers seeking to free up property to construct multi-storey buildings.

"We have seen fires used as a weapon to evict poor slum dwellers and squatters from government or private property," rights activist Nur Khan Liton told AFP.