The death toll of Monday's devastating fire at Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar's Balukhali has risen to 11. Among the deceased, one victim was from Camp 8-E, five were from 8-W and five died in Camp 9.
About 550 people were injured in the fire and some 400 Rohingyas are still missing after the incident. Some 10,000 houses burned down in the flames, displacing about half a lakh Rohingyas. Hospitals, distribution centres, learning centres, and other necessary facilities were also damaged in the fire.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief Mohammad Mohsin provided this information at a press briefing at 5:30pm on Tuesday.
"Monday's fire was the largest of its kind, and so far, we have confirmed the deaths of 11 people. A high-level committee has been formed to investigate the matter. We will also investigate the previous fires," the minister said.
He also added that legal action will be taken if the investigation reveals the fire to have been planned.
According to the Deputy Inspector General of Chattogram Range Md Anowar Hossain, who visited the affected camps on Tuesday noon, a seven-member committee headed by Cox's Bazar Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner has been formed from the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief to investigate the incident.
Earlier, at around 4pm on Tuesday, Sayyed Mohammad Tafheem, Communications and Public Relations officer of Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG), the coordinating body of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the camp, said in a statement that preliminary figures suggest that at least 15 people lost their lives during Monday's fire.
According to his earlier statement, some 5,600 people were injured in the fire and about 400 Rohingyas were missing as of 4pm on Tuesday. He mentioned that this information was obtained from the information provided by the relevant sources of the NGOs working in the camps.
However, in the afternoon, after the briefing of the Secretary of Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, ISCG Communications and Public Relations Officer Sayyed Mohammad Tafheem sent another message to the press requesting to maintain the official death toll provided during the minister's briefing.
According to a database prepared by the ISCG for monitoring camp-based activities on 18 January, the number of houses in Camp 8 in Balukhali is 6,250 and the population is 29,472, while the number of houses in the 8-W camp is 6,613 and the population numbers 30,743. Camp 9 has 7,200 houses and has a population of 32,963 while Camp 10 has 6,320 houses and a population of 29,709.
As per this, the number of houses in the four camps were 26,383 and the population of these camps were one lakh 22 thousand 887 people.
Tafheem added that the number of dead, injured, missing, and displaced people could rise after further investigation.
On Tuesday afternoon, Cox's Bazar Additional Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Shamsuddoza Nayan said that officials from several levels of administration were present at the scene and were monitoring the incident.
Ukhia Upazila Nirbahi Officer Nizam Uddin Ahmed said on Tuesday afternoon that hundreds of Bangladeshi families' houses were also burnt in the fire. Along with the fire service, the army and the BGB also worked tirelessly to bring the fire under control, he added.
Earlier on Monday at around 4pm, a fire broke out at Rohingya Camp 8-E, 8-W in Ukhia's Balukhali area, soon spreading to Camp 9 and 10.
The fire was brought under control at around 12 last night, but by then, more than 10,000 Rohingya huts had burned to the ground – along with various local and foreign NGO offices and police barracks.