A major fire has engulfed Thanchi Sadar upazila market of the south-eastern district Bandarban, ravaging 200 shops.
The fire broke out on Monday dawn, said Shakriya Haydar, senior fire service station officer of Bandarban.
Thanchi Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Ariful Haque Mridul said, "The fire originated at around 5am. It erupted quickly and went out of control. The 200 shops in the market have been completely gutted."
The UNO added that the fire spread rapidly as most of the shops were made of bamboo and grasses. According to primary estimation, losses amounted to around Tk35 crore, he said.
Mohammad Faruk, a wholesaler of the market, said he had lost everything stored in the warehouse. "I could only save some cash."
The wholesaler claimed that he lost goods worth around Tk70-80 lakh in the fire.
Ucaisa Marma had an eatery and a drug store at the market. Though he was able to save some items from the eatery, the pharmacy got completely damaged in the blaze.
"I lost nearly Tk10 lakh in my two shops," Ucaisa Marma said.
Locals were angry because there is a fire service station adjacent to the upazila bus station, but it is yet to start operating.
Lawyer Ubathoai Marma, one of the fire victims, said that losses could be minimised if the firefighters started dousing the blaze immediately.
"The market has the Sangu River flowing nearby and a pond too. Such huge loss is unacceptable where the blaze could be doused easily," he said.
Another local Mongsinghai Marma echoed the same allegations.
"Previously, fire had broken out at the market three times. However, those were minor. People from the Sadarupazila, Tindu and Remakri were completely dependent on the market."
Fire service official Shakriya Haydar said the upazila is 85 kilometres away from the district headquarters.
"Two firefighting units from Bandarban and Rowangchhari were mobilised to the spot," he said, adding, "But hilly roads and the distance took the toll as the units could not reach the spot in time.
"We primarily came to know that the blaze originated from an eatery in the market," he added.