Around 100 houses have been burned down in the fire incident at Kallyanpur Natun Bazar slum
Shahnaz Begum had no worries over food for her family even on Thursday as she had a barrel filled with rice in her house.
It took her only a day to become foodless, with her house having been gutted in a fire that broke out at Kallyanpur Natun Bazar slum in Dhaka on Friday.
"I have become destitute. I could not bring out a single thing from my house – TV, fridge, showcase, cupboard, food – nothing, except for my old mother and two daughters. Where will I stay now? What to eat?" – She was lamenting the loss of her belongings in the fire.
The fire gutted around 100 houses in the slum, including 13 shops, and the poor dwellers are clueless about how to survive these challenging hours, even as they have neither food to eat nor any place to live in. The initial damage has been estimated at around Tk1 crore.
This is the second time the fire has destroyed all the belongings of Shahnaz, 35. She has not been able to repay the money she borrowed for her family's living following the first fire incident in 2015.
Slum-dwellers said a TV, fridge and furniture shop was one of the most affected ones. The owner, Firoz, had closed the shop and gone home before the fire broke out. When he heard of the fire, he came and found the shop completely burnt. The 35-year-old could not bear the shock and fainted.
Firoz's elder brother Liton said his brother started the shop in 2011 with many efforts and it was his only asset. There were goods worth about Tk10-12 lakh in the shop. Various moneylenders still owe around Tk3-4 lakh to Firoz.
Liton, who also used to help his brother in the shop, was wailing over how they would run their families.
Another couple, Arzu, 35, and Jasim, 40, came to Dhaka for living from Bhola 20 years ago. Arzu, a house cook, and Jasim, a construction worker, managed to recover when their house was burned down in 2015, but this time they lost everything in the fire.
Mueen Uddin, a local social worker, said fire has broken out in this slum three times so far. This time, the source of the fire could not be identified. However, the fire killed many day labourers who were unemployed in the pandemic.
"The condition of the two burnt people is critical and they have been admitted to the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College and Hospital. Many of the injured have been admitted to the local hospital," he added.
Slum-dwellers complained the fire brigade teams were late as they were "purposefully" stopped for some time on the Darussalam Road.
However, denying the allegation, Kamrul Hasan, duty officer, Fire Service and Civil Defence Station at Mazar Road in Mirpur, claimed one of their teams went to the spot on time.