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Blaze at high-rise in Bangladesh kills at least five

By Reuters - Mar 28,2019 - Last updated at Mar 28,2019

Bangladeshi onlookers gather around during a blaze in an office building in Dhaka on Thursday (AFP photo)

DHAKA — A fire broke out in a 22-storey commercial building in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, on Thursday, killing at least five people, including a Sri Lankan, injuring at least 60 and trapping many, officials said. 

Some of those trapped waved frantically from the building's windows and roof while others tried to jump to safety. Fire fighters perched on cranes smashed windows in an attempt to reach those inside, witnesses said. 

Hundreds of people gathered to watch in the street below. 

One man who tried to escape by descending from a rope fell, a Reuters witness said. 

The building is in the upscale, built-up Banani area of the city and the cause of the fire was not immediately clear. 

A girl sobbing outside the building said her father worked in an office inside and he was not answering his phone. 

"I don't know where he is," she said. 

The blaze comes a month after a massive inferno killed 71 people in an old neighbourhood of the city. Critics at the time blamed poor enforcement of safety regulations in one of the world's most densely packed cities.

Helicopters joined 22 firefighting units that worked with the army, navy, air force and police to battle Thursday's blaze as smoke billowed into the sky.

"The fire is almost under control," said Mizanur Rahman, a senior fire service official at the scene.

Several of the roughly 140 employees of the private firm Quasem Group that had multiple offices in the building, escaped across a roof to an adjacent building, said Shamim Reza Khan, an assistant general manager at the firm. 

Nanda, a finance manager at the IT firm AAMRA which has offices on four different floors in the building, said he escaped with 20 colleagues.

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