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Bangladesh slum fire kills 11

By Farid Ahmed, for CNN
November 19, 2012 -- Updated 1032 GMT (1832 HKT)
Onlookers gather around the wreckage of fire-damaged rickshaws in a slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Sunday.
Onlookers gather around the wreckage of fire-damaged rickshaws in a slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Sunday.
  • All of those reported killed so far were women and children
  • The blaze burned some 700 closely packed thatched houses to the ground
  • Garment worker left in despair: "I have nothing and nowhere to go"

Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) -- A fire swept through a shantytown in Bangladesh's capital on Sunday, killing at least 11 people, police and officials said. All the dead were children and women.

Authorities said the blaze burned some 700 closely packed thatched houses to the ground at Hazaribagh area of Dhaka, rendering several thousand poor people homeless.

Read more: Clinton leaves drama in China for turmoil in Bangladesh

Mizanur Rahman, a deputy director of the Fire Service and Civil Defence, said that they had recovered the bodies of six women and five children so far.

Many of the injured who suffered severe burn injuries were taken public and private hospitals.

The male residents in the shantytown were mostly rickshaw pullers, and the women were working as either apparel factory workers or domestic help.

The fire spread quickly among the tightly packed shanties. Residents could hardly save their belongings, according to witnesses who rushed to the spot after seeing plumes of black smoke belching out of the densely populated residential area early in the morning.

"I've lost everything in the fire, and now I have nothing and nowhere to go," teary-eyed garment factory worker Feroza Begum told CNN.

"Since it was a densely crowded slum, many were trapped inside without finding a way to exit," a firefighter engaged in the rescue operation said.

Seventeen units of the Fire Service and Civil Defence took nearly four hours to extinguish the flames, he said.

The fire service officials said they would soon investigate the cause of the fire.

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