‘To survive, we had to act in 10mins’
The thick clouds of smoke were quick to engulf many of the floors of 22-storey Faruque-Rupayan Tower (FR Tower) that caught fire on Thursday afternoon leaving 26 people dead.
Those who survived the disaster, all have horror stories to recount as they were caught in a moment that would deeply test them.
Within moments of the fire breaking out, those stuck inside the building found themselves unable to breathe properly in the thick fumes.
“Once I understood a fire had broken out, I immediately told my colleagues that we only have 10 minutes in our hand. If we want to survive, we have to break open the window grill of the bathroom to jump to the adjacent building,” says Shariful Islam, a senior manager of Aamra Technologies which was housed on the ninth floor of the building.
“We were running out of time as we could not break open the window and felt out of breath due to the smoke,” Shariful says.
“I called my colleagues who escaped the FR Tower earlier to come to the 10th floor of Ahmed Tower (the building next to FR Tower). Luckily, they came in time and helped us break open the window. At least 24 people including myself managed to get out through that window.”
“However, those who were on the upper floor could not escape like us. They might have perished in the fire,” he says.
Shariful Islam today came to a police control room set up in front of Sopura Tower where the separate government probe bodies formed to investigate the fire were hearing the accounts of those who survived the inferno.
The probe teams took the testimony of 24 survivors, who were on the eighth, ninth and tenth floors of the building.
Another survivor Salahuddin, an employee of Kashem Group, said he saw around 200 people jumping on to the rooftop of Ahmed Tower.
Salahuddin claimed to have witnessed a man dying when the latter was trying to save himself from the rancid smoke diving his nose inside a flower pot.
Salahuddin says four of his colleagues were hurt and another died. Manjur, a colleague of Salahuddin, who was paralysed from his waist down died in the blaze.
“When Manjur was offered help, he refused and said save other colleagues,” he added.
Talking to journalists, Md faizul Rahman, additional secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief and also the convener of a probe body, said they have taken the testimony of 24 survivors today.
“Most of the survivors said the fire sparked on the 7th floor. However, their statements are not to be taken as conclusive. We are waiting for the final reports of the probe bodies,” he added.