Fire kills three people in a market near Rohingya camp in Bangladesh

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh (AP) — A fire on Friday destroyed more than 20 stores in a temporary market near the Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh, killing at least three people, police and witnesses said.

Ahmed Sanjur Morshed, the local police chief, said the firefighters had recovered the body from the debris after it took hours to control the flames.

The fire broke out at the beginning of Friday when residents of the vast Kutu Palong camp for Rohingya refugees in Myanmar were sleeping.

The store owner, Sayedul Mustafa, confirmed that the dead were his staff.

Emda Durhake, an employee of the Fire Department and Civil Defense Department, said he had to struggle for more than three hours to put down the fire.

He said some others were injured.

It was not clear how the fire started. It happened after another catastrophic fire in the camp last month killed 15 people, injured 560 and left about 45,000 homeless.

Aid agencies and the government said they had begun rebuilding the shelter after a major fire last month.

Authorities have sent about 13,000 refugees to the island in recent months, promising a better life. The island was prepared by the government to accommodate 100,000 refugees. Authorities said their efforts to send more refugees would continue.

Bangladesh protects more than one million Rohingya Muslims, the majority of whom fled Myanmar in 2017 in a massive crackdown by Myanmar troops.

The United Nations said the crackdown was intended for genocide, Myanmar refused.

Bangladesh is eager to accept refugees in crowded refugee camps and send them back to the Buddhist-dominated Myanmar, but the Rohingya are afraid of increased violence in countries that deny basic rights, including citizenship Some attempts failed because he refused to go.

In February, when the Myanmar military coup d’etat and replaced the elected civilian government, which had been in power since 2016, repatriation efforts became even more uncertain.