Fire in centuries-old part of Bangladesh's capital kills 70

Hundreds of firefighters who took nearly 12 hours to bring the fire under control went through the blackened floors of the building, littered with spray cans, looking for bodies. A local business owner tells the AFP he heard a "big bang", then saw "the whole street, which was jam packed with cars and rickshaws, in flames".

At least 70 people were killed when fire tore through crumbling apartment blocks in a historic part of Dhaka, setting off a chain of explosions and a wall of flames down nearby streets, officials said Thursday. Dozens of injured were admitted to hospital during the night, many in a critical condition.... Officials said narrow lanes made it hard for fire engines to reach the spot, and helicopters and long hose pipes were used to put out the blaze.

Over 50 wounded people were being treated at Dhaka's two major state-run facilities - Dhaka Medical College Hospital's burn unit and Sir Salimullah Medical College.

However, most of the bodies of the dead were charred beyond recognition.

The centuries-old Chawkbazar district has very narrow streets and residential buildings only inches apart.

Bangladesh media reported earlier that at least three people had been killed and several others taken to hospital.

It still isn't known exactly what caused the inferno in the Chawkbazar area of Old Dhaka, some of which dates back to the Mughal period more than 300 years ago.

He said firefighters had struggled to find enough water to fight the blaze and had to draw supplies from a nearby mosque.

"I broke open an exhaust fan in the second floor and jumped to the roof of a shed next to the factory", said one survivor.

It had sparked a public outcry, demanding the relocation of chemical warehouses and stores from the area, but little has been done in the last nine years.

There are hundreds of electrical, telephone and internet cables hanging on to the narrow lanes posing a danger for the local people in Chawkbazar.

The Dhaka district administration officially lists 11 people as missing.

In 2012, a fire raced through a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, killing at least 112 people trapped behind its locked gates.

The blaze broke out at night in a residential building that had flammable material stored on the ground floor.