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Friday, June 4, 2010

Capital Dhaka's housing-block fire kills more than 100 people

Worst fire for over 20 years
BBC News, Dhaka, 4 June : A blaze in a densely populated part of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka has killed more than 116 people.

It began when an electrical transformer exploded, setting on fire shops and housing, including a five-storey residential block, where a wedding party was being held on the roof. The blaze in the old district of Nimtoli has been extinguished, but the search for bodies is still continuing. Correspondents say this has been the worst fire in Dhaka for over 20 years. Nimtoli district is crammed with buildings and roads are narrow, making access for the emergency services difficult.
The BBC's Mark Dummett in Dhaka says the city is one of the most densely populated cities in the world - and Nimtoli is its most crowded district. The blaze engulfed a five-storey apartment block that had metal grilles on its windows and no fire escape. Emergency services say that they do not expect to recover any survivors from the site, which remains cordoned off as they complete the last stages of the rescue operation.
Fire department chief Abu Nayeem said the fire had engulfed at least seven buildings. "There were shops selling chemicals on the ground floor, which were caught by the fire as it spread very quickly," he told the AFP news agency.
"The temperature and fumes became unbearable because of the chemicals. "We struggled to get inside due to the narrow stairways of the very old buildings." A large wedding party was under way on the roof of one of the buildings at the time of the fire. "The bride was spared from the fire as she had been at the local beauty salon," an eyewitness told AFP. Other eyewitnesses have described to the BBC the horrific scenes as the full extent of the fire became apparent. READ FULL STORY Photos : AP, Syed Ashraful Alom

Dhaka fire : B'desh will hold national mourning on Saturday
Dhaka, 4 June : Bangladesh will hold national mourning on Saturday for those who died in the Old Dhaka fire on Thursday night.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina made the announcement when she went to visit the hundreds of fire victims undergoing treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital's burns unit on Friday. Flags will be flown at half-staff and special prayers held at mosques and other places of worships across the country.

Indian Finance min Pranab Mukherjee says no to bank levy
PTI, Busan (South Korea), 4 June : The G-20 is unlikely to make headway on the contentious issue of taxing banks for future bailouts with India, Australia and Canada opposing it.
Indian Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee made known India's preference for regulatory mechanism instead of bank tax at a meeting with Il Sakong, the chairman of the presidential committee for the G-20 meeting here today. India is not in favour of imposing any tax on banks, he said, adding the better option would be to adopt regulatory mechanism as is being followed by Indian banks.
Besides India, Australia and Canada too are opposed to a bank levy, reported South Korean news agency Yonhap. The countries which are in favour of a bank levy include the US, Britain and European countries. Photo : AFP

Normal life hit by heavy rains in submerged Guwahati city
Guwahati, 4 June : Normal life in the city was today affected due to continuous heavy rainfall that submerged many areas and triggered a landslide.
The landslide took place on the road leading to Raj Bhavan on the banks of Brahmaputra river but there was no casualty, officials said. Three vehicles and several houses near the road were damaged in the rains, lashing the city for the past 12 hours. Knee-deep water submerged the busy Zoo Road, Nabin Nagar, Anil Nagar, Bhangagarh, Lachit Nagar and Kahilipara. The water logging hit movement of vehicles and people.
WB govt gets notification on CBI probe into 'train mishap'
Kolkata, 4 June : The West Bengal Government has received formal notification from the Centre about its decision for a CBI probe into the 28 May Gyaneshwari Express derailment that left 148 passengers dead.
The notification has been received, but the terms of reference are yet to arrive, Chief Secretary Ardhendu Sen told reporters here today. The CID investigation which was ordered into the derailment in West Midnapore district by the state government would not be wound up immediately. This would be decided after the terms of reference were received, Sen said.
In Delhi, the department of personnel and training (DoPT) issued a notification yesterday handing over the probe to the CBI which will register a case. The Centre has decided to go ahead with a CBI probe as the mishap took place on railway property and therefore did not require concurrence of the concerned state government. File Photo : PTI

Finance Min's Power point budget presentation in B'desh
Dhaka, 4 June : Bangladesh Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith will present the annual budget through a power point presentation in parliament 10 June, cutting short the traditional long speech.
This is the first time when a finance minister will use modern technology to unveil the budgetary proposals in the house.

Santosh Trophy Football in Kolkata from 15 July - 8 August
PTI, New Delhi, 4 June : The 64th Indian National Football Championship for the Santosh Trophy 2009-10 will be held in Kolkata from 15 July to 8 August without some of the country's top players in action.
Thirty national team players will not take part in the tournament as they will start training next month for the Asian Cup to be held in Doha, Qatar from 7-29 January next year. Thirty-two teams will participate in the Santosh Trophy with defending champions Goa, runners-up Bengal and semifinalists Tamil Nadu and Services being directly seeded into the quarterfinal league.
B'desh exports crocodile to Germany
BSS, Dhaka, 4 June : An unconventional product was added to Bangladesh's export basket as the country's lone crocodile farm has finally been able to send 67 crocs to Germany through air today, half a decade into its inception.
"A Thai Airways flight carrying the 67 frozen saltwater crocs of different age groups left Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 1.20pm today for Germany ", Mustaq Ahmed, Managing Director and CEO of Reptile Farm Ltd (RFL), told BSS. "We are very much delighted with the maiden export of crocs from Bangladesh as our dreams were fulfilled at last," he said, adding Bangladesh is the first country in South Asia to export farm grown crocodiles.
Mushtaq said Germany's Heidelberg University is importing the crocodiles for research purposes. "The export of crocodiles from Bangladesh would fetch US Dollar one lakh, ushering in a hope of croc business in the country," he said.
TMC to step up demand for early WB's assembly elections
Kolkata, 4 June : The Trinamool Congress will step up its demand for early assembly elections in West Bengal, where no governance worth the name existed, party chief Mamata Banerjee has said.
"Every day I will keep demanding early assembly polls in the state. If there was governance in West Bengal, I had nothing to say. Now there is no governance in West Bengal," Banerjee told a Bengali TV channel (Kolkata Tv) last night.
Shillong Airport being expanded : Transport Min AT Mondal
Shillong, 4 June : The process of acquisition of land for expansion of the Umroi airport on the outskirts here is under progress, Meghalaya Transport Minister A T Mondal said.
Around 34 acres of land was required for the purpose, the minister said that though the villagers were initially reluctant to part with their land, they have now agreed to it against suitable compensation by the government.
"Recently I held meeting with the villagers and they have agreed. The deputy commissioner was directed to initiate land acquisition proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act, 1984, and it is expected to be completed shortly," he said in reply to a question by James Sangma of the Opposition yesterday.
Desperate plight of Burma's minority Rohingya people
Mark Dummett, BBC News, 4 June : Nasima, 22, is from the Rohingya ethnic group, a Muslim minority that lives in western Burma. Rights groups say it is one of the most persecuted communities in the world - they were made stateless in 1982, and deemed to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Several hundred thousand have since crossed into Bangladesh, where people speak a similar language. This year Dhaka has been accused of arresting hundreds of Rohingya and forcing them over the border - claims the government denies. It says it is too poor to help them. The BBC's Mark Dummett spoke to Nasima in the Kutupalong makeshift camp, which is now home to more than 30,000 Rohingyas. READ FULL STORY

Cotton production reaches 70,000 bales this season in BD
UNB, Dhaka, 4 June : Bangladesh witnessed lint cotton production of 70,000 bales in the current season including 2000 bales under the hybrid cotton cultivation.
“In the 2009-10 season, some 31,500 hectares of land were brought under cotton cultivation and we have achieved expected production of 70,000 bales,” said Deputy Director of Cotton Development Board (CDB) M Farid Uddin. Talking to UNB, he said that in the current season the cotton farmers used hybrid seeds in their fields for the first time and the output was very good.
Farid Uddin informed that of the total land, 289.5 hectares were brought under cultivation of two hybrid varieties - HSC-4 and DM-1. Around 3-3.5 tons of seed cotton were harvested in each hectare (1 hectare = 2.47 acres) compared to two tons from traditional CB-9.
The lint cotton production in the 2008-09 season was not so encouraging as some 32,600 hectares of land were brought under the cultivation from where 50,175 bales of cotton were harvested.