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Bangladesh building fire kills at least 70 people, and the ‘number could rise further’

Click to play video: 'Devastating fire races through multiple buildings in an old part of Bangladesh’s capital' Devastating fire races through multiple buildings in an old part of Bangladesh’s capital
WATCH: Devastating fire races through multiple buildings in an old part of Bangladesh's capital – Feb 20, 2019

The death toll from a fire in a centuries-old area of the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka, jumped dramatically to 70 on Thursday, a fire official said, and could keep climbing as fire fighters combed the wreckage of the destroyed building.

Large building fires are relatively common in impoverished Bangladesh, due in part to lax regulations, and have killed hundreds of people in recent years.

WATCH: Fire breaks out in Bangladesh capital, multiple reported killed

Click to play video: 'Fire breaks out in Bangladesh capital, multiple reported killed' Fire breaks out in Bangladesh capital, multiple reported killed
Fire breaks out in Bangladesh capital, multiple reported killed – Feb 20, 2019

“So far, 70 bodies have been recovered. The number could rise further as the search is continuing,” Julfikar Rahman, a director of the Fire Service and Civil Defence, told Reuters.

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The fire started in a four-story building on Wednesday night and spread to nearby buildings in the Chawkbazar area of Old Dhaka, which dates back to the Mughal period more than 300 years ago.

Rahman said at least 50 people had been taken to hospital, some in critical condition. Hundreds of people rushed to the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital to search for missing relatives, witnesses said.

READ MORE: Police believe Bangladesh garment factory fire was arson

About 200 firefighters fought for more than five hours to bring the blaze under control. They told reporters the building where the fire began had housed a plastics warehouse and contained flammable material.

Rahman said the cause was still under investigation.

He said firefighters had struggled to find enough water to fight the blaze and had to draw supplies from a nearby mosque.

Firefighters work at the scene of a fire that broke out at a chemical warehouse in Dhaka, Bangladesh February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

The fire is likely to focus attention on lax enforcement of building safety regulations in Bangladesh, where accidents kill hundreds every year.

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The Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013 killed more than 1,100 workers and a fire in a garment factory in 2012 killed 112 people

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