Ukhiya Rohingya camp fire: Official death toll 11

Authorities have so far recovered 11 bodies from the ruins at Balukhali refugee camp in Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar in the aftermath of the deadly fires that burned several thousand shanties yesterday.

“Eleven bodies have been recovered from the ruins till now,” said Disaster Management and Relief Secretary Md Mohsin in a briefing at the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner’s (RRRC’s) office in Cox’s Bazar this evening.

“We have no information that anyone went missing. It is being investigated whether anyone went missing,” he said.

Many of the affected Rohingya refugees may have taken shelter with their relatives in other camps, said the secretary, adding that it will be known tomorrow as camp in-charge and RRRC office are working in this regard.

Secretary Mohsin said nearly 45,000 Rohingya refugees of a total of 9,300 families were affected by the fire. Besides, about 200 houses near the affected Rohingya camps were also burned, he said.

The government has started work from today to ensure shelter and rehabilitation of the victims quickly, added the secretary.

However, the UNHCR in a statement issued this evening said that based on provisional reports, 15 refugees are confirmed to have lost their lives in the fire as of this morning.

More than 560 have been injured and an estimated 400 people are still missing, said the statement published in the UNHCR’s official website.

At least 10,000 shelters are estimated to have been destroyed or damaged, the statement reads.

Some 45,000 Rohingya refugees lost their shelters and belongings in the devastating blaze, added the statement.

The fire started around 4:00pm yesterday and firefighters almost doused it an hour later. But another wave of fire broke out shortly after 11:00pm and was still burning down shanties at the densely populated camp as of 12:30am, locals said.

The fire reported around 4:00pm was the third in Balukhali camp in the last four days, locals said.

Reuters reported that a video shot by a resident showed a blaze ripping through the camp, with people scrambling to recover their possessions amid burning shanties and tents.

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Over a million Rohingyas live in the camps in southern Bangladesh. The vast majority of them fled Myanmar in 2017 amid a military-led crackdown that UN investigators said was executed with “genocidal intent”