Fire kills 4 at vast Bangladesh shopping mall

At least four people are dead and 50 others injured after a fire raced through the upper levels of the Bangladesh's largest shopping mall on Friday.
A rescue helicopter flies over the burning Bashundhara City shopping mall in Dhaka, in Bangladesh, on Friday. ((Pavel Rahman/Associated Press))

At least four people are dead and 50 others injured after fire raced through the upper levels of Bangladesh's largest shopping mall on Friday.

Witnesses said huge flames shot into the air amid billowing smoke as hundreds of panicked people, many of them carrying shopping bags, fled the 22-storey Bashundhara City mall in the capital, Dhaka.

An air force helicopter plucked survivors from the roof of the high-rise complex, which houses more than 2,000 stores and cafes, said fire official Mahbubur Rahman. It was unclear how many people were inside the mall when the fire started.

Rahman said the blaze was fanned by summer winds and it took more than six hours to get the fire under control.

Among the dead was a security guard who died at a hospital hours after the blaze broke out on the 18th floor. Police say firefighters later recovered three more bodies — all of them men — from an elevator.

Doctors at Shamarita Hospital said a security guard died from burns and another 17 people were being treated there for smoke inhalation. Other hospitals reported receiving at least 33 people suffering from smoke inhalation.

There's no word yet on the cause of the fire.

The floor where the fire began houses the offices of the mall's owner, the Bashundhara company, which would normally be closed Friday, part of the weekend in Bangladesh. The mall opened in 2004.